Coming Attractions 2: Still Attracted

Or should that be Coming Attractions 2: The Re-Attractioning? I don’t know what the hip kids say these days…

Anyhoo. Back in December, I wrote a post highlighting several 2015 releases I was anticipating. A few of them have come out, and I promptly devoured and adored them  (hi, Signal to Noise, hi, Karen Memory). A few I am still eagerly anticipating (hi, Updraft, hi, Against a Brightening Sky, why aren’t you out yet?!?). In the meantime, while I continue to eagerly await those releases, a whole new crop of books have found their way onto me radar. I’m excited about them, and you probably should be, too.

Exerpimental FilmExperimental Film by Gemma Files will officially come out December 3, 2015, and is currently available for pre-order. As a general rule, I’m a fan of Files’ work. As a general rule, I’m also a sucker for fiction about movies, in particular old movies, silent films, and/or obscure, mysterious pieces of cinema that may or may not actually exist. When you combine these – Files writing about film – it’s pure magic. each thing i show you is a piece of my death (co-written with Stephen J. Barringer), remains one of my favorite pieces of short fiction by Files, and is among my favorite short stories period. So a whole novel about early 20th century film, the uncovering of lost footage, and mysteriously a disappearing socialite/filmmaker? Sign me the fuck up! The subtle, creeping dread Files infuses throughout so much of her work is sure to be present here as Experimental Film also promises to be a ghost story. Needless to say (though I did kind of say it already), I’m very much looking forward to this one.

Inheritance of AshesAn Inheritance of Ashes by Leah Bobet is due out in October, and is also currently available for pre-order. I have been looking forward to this book since July 2014 when I first heard Bobet read an excerpt at Readercon. I heard her read a second excerpt this year, and I’m certainly not waiting another whole year for the rest of it. Hints of Lovecraftian monstrosities against the backdrop of a Dust Bowl/Depression setting? Yes, please! The novel centers around two sisters struggling to survive and hold on to their family farm in the wake of a war against supernatural beings. There are twisty things; very bad bird-spider things that generally tend to flock, and were supposedly all wiped out when the dark god died, but things are rarely that clean and easy, are they? From the two excerpts I’ve heard, the voice in this novel is amazing, and the characters are ones I will happily follow on their journey. I’ll just be over here making vague grabby hands until the novel is released.

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An Interview with Djibril al-Ayad and Kathryn Allan

Accessing the FutureDjibril al-Ayad and Kathryn Allan co-editors of the new anthology Accessing the Future, were kind enough to stop by today to chat about their work. I’ll start things off as I usually do by shamelessly cribbing from their bios…

Djibril al-Ayad is the nom de guerre of an academic historian and futurist who has been editing speculative fiction for a decade, reading it for two, and writing it for three. He is the editor of The Future Fire magazine, and the owner of Futurefire.net Publishing.

Kathryn Allan is an Independent Scholar of science fiction and disability studies (specializing in cyberpunk, feminist SF, and SF TV & film), Editor of Disability in Science Fiction: Representations of Technology as Cure (2013), and the inaugural recipient of the Le Guin Feminist Science Fiction Fellowship. She writes for both academic and fan audiences and has been published in such places as The WisCon Chronicles, Vol. 7: Shattering Ableist Narratives (Ed. JoSelle Vanderhooft) and Techno-Orientalism: Imagining Asia in Speculative Fiction, History, and Media (Eds. David Roh, Betsy Huang, and Greta Niu). She blogs and tweets as BleedingChrome.

ACW: Welcome! First off, let’s talk a bit about Accessing the Future. Where did the idea for the anthology originate, and how did the project come together?

Kathryn Allan: Thank you for having us! I first pitched the idea for a disability-themed anthology to Djibril because I was tired of seeing terrible, stereotypical depictions of disability in the SF I was reading and watching. Djibril had previously invited me to be a reader and associate editor for The Future Fire, so we already had an understanding of our general likes and politics when it comes to SF. Once I read the wonderful We See a Different Frontier (which Djibril co-edited with Fabio Fernandes), I knew that the timing was right to make my pitch. Happily, Djibril was on board and we both dove right into writing up our call for submissions and planning the crowdfunding campaign. It was amazing to see how our collaboration shaped the focus of Accessing the Future—I brought in my disability experience and scholarship to the table, and Djibril brought in his dedication to boosting intersectional stories from international authors. In the end, our Indiegogo campaign raised $8,300!

ACW: What was your process like for putting together the anthology? You had an open call for submissions, but were any of the stories solicited in advance? How did you go about selecting the stories and creating a balance in terms of theme, tone, etc.?

Djibril al-Ayad: We were very clear from the start that we didn’t want to commission or solicit any stories—partly because we wanted people to bring themselves forward as interested in the theme, and didn’t want to prejudge that; we wanted authors from as wide a range of backgrounds as possible, especially people whom we wouldn’t have known about in advance. And of course, we prefer not directly to solicit stories when we can’t make any promises about including them. Instead we made sure we got the word out as widely as possible, both in the usual SF circles, and in specifically activist, queer, feminist, international and disability-focused fora, to be sure of receiving stories from the full spectrum of backgrounds, themes, styles and areas. What made it possible to select as balanced and inclusive a table of contents as we did was the fact that when we had shortlisted all of the stories that we both absolutely loved, that we were willing to go to the wall for, we still had more than twice as many as we had room for in the volume. So we picked stories that included a good mix of physical disability, anxiety, chronic illness, deafness, autism; happy stories and sad stories; light hearted stories and fierce stories; adventures and dystopias. By the time we’d agonized over the last few pieces to include, I think we ended up with the best selection of stories and artworks we possibly could have.

ACW: I agree! On a somewhat related note, you both come from academic backgrounds, did that factor into the creation of the anthology at all? Kathryn, your academic work specifically is focused on disability in science fiction, so I’m sure you must have had some strong feelings about helpful narratives versus harmful ones, and the kinds of stories you wanted to see. Were there any particular gaps in the literature that’s out there that you hoped to fill with the stories in this anthology?

KA: My academic background—having completed a PhD (on the vulnerable body in feminist post-cyberpunk SF) while dealing with chronic illness—definitely factored into my desire to see an anthology like Accessing the Future come into being. I read and watched so many SF narratives where a person with a disability, if they are even in the story in any significant way, are simply cured by technology, or, even worse, disability is completely absent from the future (because of genetic engineering or other such technological interventions). I really wanted to see stories where people with disabilities get to be the hero as they are; where they get to be active participants in their medical care; where disability isn’t some sort of awful, tragic thing. I so wanted to see stories about the future that include people with disabilities in realistic and complex ways because we do exist and our experiences, hopes, fears, and dreams for the future matter.

DaA: My own scholarship hasn’t really fed into my editing directly (except through giving me the discipline and eye for detail to treat texts seriously). Perhaps surprisingly the movement has been in the other direction: involvement with socially conscious SFF and literary movements has enriched my understanding of postcolonial history, feminist informatics, disability and other access issues in conferences and classrooms. Academia is several years behind the SF convention on the subject of codes of conduct, for example.

ACW: Djibril, you co-edit The Future Fire, and you’ve also co-edited several other anthologies prior to this one. Is your process more or less the same across projects, or does it change each time? Was there anything different or surprising about working on this project you hadn’t encountered in your other editorial projects?

DaA: In a sense the process is very similar every time: we divide up stories to filter out the obvious non-fits, then rank favourites, and shortlist all the stories that we both love, as I said earlier. With the magazine it’s a little bit different, because individual editors can to an extent make decisions by fiat, although in practice 90% of stories we publish are seen and discussed by at least 2 or 3 people. But even with the anthologies, as I’ve had a different co-editor each time (now on the 4th), the actual process of making up our minds can vary quite a lot. In one case we had to discuss quite a lot what our criteria were, but when it came to discussions of quality, we were almost spookily in agreement; another editor was so passionate about shortlisting stories that that part was very easy, it was drawing up the final table of content that took a bit of strategic decision-making and sacrifice. With Kathryn, in contrast, we both had so many ideas and such different perspectives that we had some real fights!

KA: Friendly fights, I should add!

DaA: Absolutely, yes! We weren’t squabbling; we were both just so passionate about these stories. I think we both learned a lot from hearing about why the other loved a story that we were at first cool about, and I know I learned a lot about disability politics from talking over a few stories that were very good fiction otherwise, but not quite appropriate for this venue for that reason. I expect the experience with the next anthology to be different again…

ACW: To switch away from writing and editing a little bit, what pastimes do you turn to when you need to recharge your creative batteries?

KA: I really love gardening and just sitting outside watching the birds and bees. When I’m able to get out and garden, it creates a contemplative mental space—I’ve done some of my best thinking while pulling weeds! Otherwise, honestly, I’m usually just consuming more SF.

DaA: Heh, editing speculative fiction magazines and anthologies is actually my down-time… Reading and writing about SF is how I unwind and recharge from teaching and grading papers; but to some degree vice versa as well—I unwind from reading and editing hundred of stories by going to overseas conferences and teaching workshops on new media, digital publishing or archaeology.

ACW: Last, but not least, now that Accessing the Future is out in the world, what other projects do you have coming up, or that you’re currently working on, that you’d like people to know about?

DaA: From the TFF perspective we currently have an open call for stories for an anthology titled Fae Visions of the Mediterranean, which aims to bring together horror and wonder from Southern Europe, North Africa and the Near East—especially including authors from the region, and microfiction in languages other than English. This year we’re also celebrating the tenth anniversary of The Future Fire, and hope soon to announce details of a fundraiser and a celebratory anthology.

KA: I have an essay in Alexandra Pierce and Alisa Krasnostein’s forthcoming Letters to Tiptree anthology (from Twelfth Planet Press) that I’m super excited about. Coming out of my Le Guin Feminist SF fellowship research, I’m working on an academic essay on disability in Le Guin’s Earthsea cycle. And my big on-going project is a writing a book on disability studies and science fiction.

ACW: Thanks for stopping by! I’ve been reading my way through Accessing the Future  this week, and I have to say, it’s a very strong anthology. I highly recommend picking up a copy.

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Readercon 2015

Readercon is almost here! July 9-12, I’ll be in Burlington, MA at one of my favorite local(ish) conventions. As the name implies, Readercon is focused primarily on the literary side of speculative fandom. While a few panels do cross over into other media, it’s mostly all about the written word. I’m only part of one item of official programming this year, a group reading from the upcoming anthology, The Monstrous, edited by Ellen Datlow. The rest of the time, I’ll be attending other panels and readings, trying to resist buying every single book in the dealers’ room, and hanging out and chatting with friends. I hope to see you there!

Friday 8-9pm Group reading from The Monstrous, a forthcoming anthology edited by Ellen Datlow.

Take a terrifying journey with literary masters of suspense, visiting a place where the other is somehow one of us. These electrifying tales redefine monsters from mere things that go bump in the night to inexplicable, deadly reflections of our day-to-day lives. Whether it’s a seemingly devoted teacher, an obsessive devotee of swans, or a diner full of evil creatures simply seeking oblivion, the monstrous is always there—and much closer than it appears.

Ellen Datlow will be introducing several contributors to the anthology, including Peter Straub, A.C Wise, Gemma Files, John Langan, Stephen Graham Jones

Room: Embrace/Empower

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Get Your Glitter On!

Glitter CoverWhen sea monsters rise, when space eels attack, when the world needs saving yet again, who do you call? The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron, of course. Sure, there are other superheroes, but they don’t have half the glitz, the glam, or the style of the Glitter Squadron. To heavily paraphrase the famous quote about Ginger Rogers, they do everything other superheroes do, but  they do it in high heels.

All of which is to say that The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again is now available for preorder! The collection will be out in October, but I’m plotting something extra special to send to folks who do preorder. On a totally selfish level, preorders do help with reviews and convincing bookstores to carry the work, but I also want to send you things! More details on will be forthcoming once I’ve figured out which of my Top Sekrit Plans to deploy.  I promise not send you an envelope full of glitter. Unless you’re into that kind of thing. In which case I WILL TOTALLY SEND YOU AN ENVELOPE FULL OF GLITTER. (You think I’m kidding, but I’m not. If you fully and consensually agree to receive such a thing, I will send you glitter, because glitter is awesome.)

Ahem. Anyway, if reading about queer and trans and cis women (and the occasional scantily-clad cis men) teaming up to save the world, and looking damned good while doing s,o is your kind of thing this is the collection for you. The book is also interspersed with cocktail recipes, so if none of those other things I mentioned are your cup of tea, you can at least get a good buzz on. The stories are a little bit pulpy, a little bit serious, and hopefully a lot bit glitteringly fabulous.

If you want a taste of what you can expect in the collection, you can read the original version of the story that started it all, Operation: Annihilate Mars! Or, Doctor Blood and the Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron, over at Ideomancer.

Saving the world may be hard, thankless work, but that’s no excuse to be anything less than fabulous.

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Gone Home

Gone Home came out in 2013, so only I’m a few years late on this one. Standard warning of spoilers ahead versus my assumption that everyone else has already played this game apply.

Gone Home Gone Home doesn’t really fit easily in a single category, which is part of what makes it so appealing. The best way to describe it is a quiet adventure/exploration game. However, unlike most adventure games, there are no standard puzzles to solve. There are hidden rooms to uncover, a few combination locks to open, and keys to find, but the majority of the game is simply walking through an old, empty house, discovering letters, notes, and other objects that allow the story to unfold. Your player character is Katie, a college(ish) age woman, coming home to visit her family after spending time in Europe. As the game opens, you arrive at the house to find your family gone, without any explanation, leaving you alone to explore.

The game sets up a classic mystery trope, and the atmosphere – storm raging outside, creaky, creepy old house sounds, the occasional shadows at the corner of your eye – certainly sets you up for horror and jump scares. The setting is even slightly reminiscent of The 7th Guest and its sequel and The 11th Hour, but it isn’t a horror game. That said, to the game’s credit, it maintains the sense of tension throughout, even when nothing overtly threatening happens. The moodiness is only the backdrop to the real heart of the story. Continue reading

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Daredevil: The Good, the Bad, and the Stereotypical

DaredevilI’m finally caught up on the first season of Netflix’s Daredevil. I assume everyone has seen it at this point, but in case you haven’t, there will be spoilers (though most of them are tucked away behind the cut). As the title of this post implies, there were a lot of things I enjoyed about the series, and many that frustrated me. In this case, the bad and the stereotypical are pretty much focused on the same thing. But let’s start with the good stuff:

The fight scenes. They are brilliantly choreographed, often in one long take.  Many modern movies and tv shows rely on quick cuts, either to hide the use of stunt doubles, or as deliberate stylistic choices. Daredevil is having none of that. Like a good sex scene, a good fight scene should be a conversation, it should tell you something about the characters involved – how they move, whether or not they use weapons, what they key in on as an advantage or a distraction. In particular, the episodes Cut Man, and Stick, stand out  – the first for the brilliant single-shot hallway fight scene, the second for highlighting the fight-as-conversation.

The acting/casting. It’s pretty darn wonderful. The main actors in particular consistently nail the nuances of their characters, and reveal depths through tiny gestures. Well done all around.

The opening credit sequence. It’s lovely. The red wax/paint-like substance dripping down to take on the forms of religious iconography and the Hell’s Kitchen landscape is highly evocative, and the simplicity of the music pairs with it perfectly. Both set an excellent tone for the show.

The four main characters. Matt, Karen, Foggy, and Fisk, are all fully realized. The way they interact, meshing or clashing, is wonderful. They each have their own motivations, their own hang-ups, and their own strengths. And, as mentioned above, they are cast and embodied perfectly by the actors.

The lighting. Okay, I’m a little torn on this one. Everything is dim. It’s a thematic choice, tied into the main character’s blindness, and it’s interesting. No other show out there (that I’m aware of) is lit quite this way, at least not that consistently. It’s striking. But, without contrast, the novelty tends to wear off after a while. It’s a very nitpicky thing, but every now and then, I found myself wishing for a different color palette just to mix things up.

And now, behind the cut, the part where I complain about stuff (and where most of the spoilers lie)… Continue reading

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Summer Book Love

Let’s leave aside that here in the Philadelphia region, as soon as the calendar flipped over to June, the temperature dropped and people went scrambling for their jackets. It is in fact summer. And summer is the time to head down the shore (as they say), and stretch out with a novel on the beach. It’s a time to climb into the branches of your favorite tree, curl up with a good book, and disappear. It’s a time to find a rare patch of shade, or cling desperately to the air conditioner and enjoy some good fiction. Are you sensing a theme? In order to help you find that perfect book to stretch out or curl up with, allow me to squee at you about some fiction I’ve loved recently. (Warning, spoilers ahead.)

GlassFalconLast year, Masque Books published the first two volumes of E. Catherine Tobler’s Folley & Mallory Adventures in a combined paperback book as The Rings of Anubis. Think of The Mummy (the one with Brendan Fraser), and good the Indiana Jones movies. The books are adventures serials the way they should be – mix in steampunk and Egyptian gods, mystery and shape-changers, tense fights, lush settings, and a dash of romance, and you have the Folley & Mallory series. And yes, it is a true series now, because Folley & Mallory are back in The Glass Falcon, an excellent novella follow-up to the first two books (or book, depending on how you’re counting). This time around, Horus is added to the mix, along with a museum heist, and a journey through the Paris catacombs. Amidst all the turmoil, Folley & Mallory  get the chance to deepen their relationship and explore what they mean to each other. At the same time, Eleanor Folley spends some time figuring out her new place in the world. She’s a Mistral Agent now, a daughter of Anubis, and a shape-changing jackal. Through her connection with Anubis, she can hear the dead, but does that mean she now has to be at the beck-and-call of every restless spirit, and answer every whim of the jackal-headed god who can pop in and out of her thoughts at will? As with the first two installments in the series, there’s a deep sense of place (summer travel, all for the price of a book!), and a healthy dose of adventure. I’m still hoping someone will make a movie out of this series. The way Tobler describes the action and settings, the world is ripe for film! In the meantime, I’ll content myself with eagerly await the next book, which, rumor has it, it due out later this year.

Maria Dahvana Headley’s Magonia is the perfect book to curl up in a tree with and temporarily hide from the world. magonia Because this is a book that will rip your heart out, show it to you, stitch it back into your chest upside down, and gladly have you asking to have it ripped out again by then end. If you’ve encountered Headley’s prose before, you know it’s brilliant. In Magonia, it drips with gorgeous imagery, and trips along with a beautiful rhythm. There’s a girl, Aza, and her best friend, Jason, and Aza is dying of a strange disease that no one has ever seen before. But there’s also a city in the sky and strange ships and pirates and a world that needs saving and living sails that are bats and birds that nest in hearts and lungs and songs that remake the world. Magonia does several things that strike me as brilliant. It resists the sainted dying character narrative that seems popular in a lot of fiction. Aza is dying, but she’s still human. She’s angry sometimes, and she’s goofy in her own way, and she’s flawed, and she’s just trying to live her own life the way she wants to while the clock ticks down. Magonia also flips the traditional portal fantasy narrative. When Aza is swept away to another world, her first thought isn’t ‘finally’, it’s ‘how the fuck do I get home’. Because her home life is good. She has a loving and supportive family, a best friend, a budding relationship, and the world she’s swept into is magical, yes, but no one tells her the truth and she doesn’t know who to trust. Finally, I appreciate that Magonia doesn’t offer the reader a giant reset button. The world grows. It changes. As mentioned, the novel rips your heart out more than one, but it does it with a purpose – the changes that happen to the characters stick. The world is upended, and no one gets to go back to pretending that everything is fine, waving away all that magic and trauma. It’s real. Magonia closes with an ending that isn’t an ending, a story that extends beyond the page, but it is still completely satisfying whether there’s a sequel or not. Go read it. Just do that. Then we can talk.

NimonaNimona by Noelle Stevenson started life as a webcomic, and was published as a trade paperback in May 2015. It’s dedicated to ‘all the girl monsters’, which just about tells you everything you need to know and why you need to read it. Well, maybe not everything. The story concerns a young shapeshifter, Nimona, who convinces the local villain to take her on as a sidekick. The story plays with high fantasy tropes, superhero tropes, mad scientist tropes, and subtly flips them on their heads. Archetypes are gently unfolded as the story goes along, revealing deeper characters. Nimona is an unreliable main character, but also a completely irresistible one. Like Aza in Magonia, she is flawed and human. Like Aza in Magonia, she is more than human. Nimona is destructive, and angry, but still a hero. You can’t help but get wrapped up in her story. Relationships lie at the heart of the tale – the relationship between villain and sidekick, villain and hero, citizens and government. On a more philosophical level, the relationships between self-perception and outside perception, and both of those perceptions versus who you want to be are also explored. The art is simple, but highly evocative. A point worth noting, since it’s unfortunately rare in mainstream comics, is Nimona’s appearance. Her head is dyed and mostly shaved, her body is pierced, and normally proportioned. As a shapeshifter, she could look like anything, but she chooses to look like an average human, rather than an idealized specimen. The story is cheeky and self-aware, keeping it from being obnoxious or checking off boxes in its trope flipping. Summer or otherwise, it is well worth reading.

There you have it, three fantastic reads for all your beach, tree, and air-conditioned sanctuary needs. I suspect I’ll be squeeing about more new books in the fall, and in the winter. I already have my eye on a few anticipated reads, and I expect to stumble across more that I didn’t know I needed in my life, but will fall in love with immediate. To that end – what else has come out recently that I should be reading? What’s coming out in the second half of the year that you’re thrilled about and that I should add to my anticipated reads list? There’s always room for more on my tottering to be read piles…

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Giveaway: The Flesh Made Word

FMWFree smut! Get it while it’s hot! Oh, who am I kidding? This one will stay hot indefinitely. Ten writers (including me) writing erotica about writing. What more could you want? The Flesh Made Word is published by Circlet Press, and it’s one of their rare print editions, being a publisher that specializes primarily in ebooks. What makes The Flesh Made Word extra special? There are blank pages for you to write your very own naughty, sensuous, and thrilling tales. All you have to do is comment below (or if you’re particularly shy, send me an email at a.c.wise (at) hotmail (dot) com, and I’ll enter you into the drawing. The winner will be chosen by the power of a Random Number Generator. The giveaway will be open until May 16, 2015.

The contributing authors include A.B. Eyers, Andrea Zanin, Benji Bright, Trish DeVene, Nadine Wilmot, Delilah Bell, Kannan Feng, Sasha Payne, Sunny Moraine, and yours truly. You can read an excerpt of my story at the Circlet website, and while you’re there, maybe pick up another book or two that catches your fancy? If you’re in a listening mood, you can also hear the full text of my story at the Nobilis Erotica podcast.

That’s it. Throw your name in the ring by May 16, 2015, and you might just get lucky. (See what I did there? See?)

 ETA: Random number generator says email entrant MLH is the winner. Thank you everyone who entered!

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An Interview with Margrét Helgadóttir

Margrét Helgadóttir was kind enough to drop by my blog today to discuss her debut novel, The Stars Seem So Far Away. Let me start, as always, by shamelessly cribbing from her author bio…

Margrét Helgadóttir is Icelandic-Norwegian, born and raised in East- and West-Africa and Norway. She lives in Copenhagen, Denmark. Margrét started submitting stories for publication autumn 2012 and has had success so far. She writes at http://margrethelgadottir.wordpress.com and tweets as @MaHelgad.

Stars Cover

ACW: First off, congratulations on the publication of your debut novel! Could you give us a taste of what it’s about?

Thank you so much! The Stars Seem So Far Away is actually not the classic novel, but it’s not a collection of stories either. I’d say it’s more a hybrid, a fusion of linked stories that through the book tells a larger story. It’s set in a distant future, where plagues, famine and wars rage across the dying Earth, and the last shuttles to the space colonies are long gone. Fleeing the deadly sun, humans migrate farther and farther north. The story is told through the tales of five survivors: One girl who sails the Northern Sea, robbing other ships to survive; one girl who hunts humans and lives with bears; one guerrilla soldier; and finally, two siblings who become separated when the plague hits Svalbard. It’s a pessimistic world, filled with death, misery, tears and despair, but I wanted to tell a story where there’s also hope, love, laughter and friendship. Hopefully I have managed this.

ACW: You were born in Ethiopia to Norwegian and Icelandic parents, and you’ve written a lot about growing up crosscultural. Are there any particular experiences from the many you’ve written about on your blog that you’d like to highlight? Or, are there any experiences from your upbringing that you feel particularly influence your writing?

Yes, I have reflected a little bit about my background and both the scars and blessings it has given me to be a child who moved lots between cultures whilst trying to develop my own identity. People who are born and have lived abroad in their development years, or are forced to move lots as a child, and/or have parents from different countries/cultures, might feel that they lack roots, that they always are outsiders and don’t really belong. I suspect my background has influenced my fiction writing to some degree. Many of my characters struggle with grief and a feeling of being lost, like in The Stars Seem So Far Away.

ACW: On a (possibly) related note – what drew you to writing/publishing in English, which is your second language? As someone who had a somewhat bi-lingual education, (but who, in the interest of full disclosure, should clarify that they are currently only minimally bi-lingual in any functional sense), I’m fascinated by translation and the way ideas move between languages. For you, as a bi-lingual (multi-lingual?) person, what it your writing process like? Are there certain concepts you feel are better suited to one language or another? Do you ever mentally translate between languages as you’re writing or brainstorming?

As a child and a teenager, I wrote many poems and stories, but as a grown up I stopped writing. I´ve wanted to start again for many years, because I felt there was something important missing in my life. And I do wonder if choice of language was the key all the time, because it was only when I started to write in English, my writing voice started to flow again and I found time to write on a daily basis. I don’t think in Norwegian, then translate it—I think in English when I write – it’s my writer voice. I might sketch up the plot in Norwegian, but it is a very rare thing. To be honest, it’s not like it’s a bed of roses. My English may be good, but my Norwegian is light years better. I struggle with all the things a person combats when dealing with foreign languages: the search for words, synonyms, grammar.

But I know my writing would be totally different in Norwegian or any of the other languages I know. When I write in Norwegian, I can be much more dramatic in my choice of words and how I express feelings, almost as if the harsh Nordic landscape and climate lurk between the lines. English flows differently. Its lexicon is so vast compared to Norwegian. I feel my writing becomes a smooth river, rather than a bumpy road. But I wonder if something gets lost in that river. Maybe I write in English because I can be distant. I still prefer to write poems in Norwegian.

ACW: Moving on to a different kind of translation skills, in addition to your book, you’re also a short story writer. How does your approach vary when working on a short piece versus a longer work? Are you the kind of person who can work on both simultaneously, or do you need to completely reset your brain to work on one form instead of the other?

Actually I have yet to combat the really long story. I have only written for two years and short stories have been my door into writing. It has been both a useful way to learn to write a story with a full plot and it’s been easier to find time and the writerly attention needed next to a busy day job. The Stars Seem So Far Away was my test – could I hold the concentration on a large project for several months? I have now started to write on two larger works, but I struggle with the time available to writing and that I am a slow writer, so I often find myself taking breaks to write smaller works. I guess I am the kind who can’t do both and that I will need to reset my brain if I ever is going to finish my larger plot ideas.

ACW: You’re also an editor for Fox Spirit Books. What types of stories appeal to you as an editor; what tips you over the edge from something you enjoyed to something you want to acquire for one of your anthologies?

I am not an experienced fiction editor yet, so I can’t fully answer your question. But so far, in my view, the stories that stand out usually have a strong writing voice and a natural narrative flow. They don’t have to be long. I’ve read flash stories that impressed me more than novellas. Language is to me part of the reader experience, and I will enjoy a story even more if the language is polished. Other than this, it’s difficult to say what makes me read a story twice. It can be a feeling in the story, a convincing character development, or an original setting. Since I edit anthologies it is also important not only to find good stories, but also stories that fit together and create a mood or a certain atmosphere in the book.

ACW: On a related note, how does your editorial brain play with your writing brain? Does one get in the way of the other, or do they lend each other strength?

The more stories I read as an editor, but also reading fiction in general, the more conscious I become of my own writing. I think I also can become inspired to try out new techniques, genres or point of views. I guess it was my editor mind that dominated when I plotted the project frames for The Stars Seem So Far Away and decided how I wanted the book to flow and the ingredients I wanted to include and when I should finish the project. But then again, I’m not sure I can put these two brains in two boxes.

ACW: Now that you’ve thoroughly conquered the worlds of short fiction, long fiction, and the editorial realm, what’s next for you? What else are you working on or do you have coming up that you’d like people to know about?

Oh, I don’t feel I have conquered these worlds at all. I feel I have much to learn about short story writing, and I have yet the really long fiction to combat. I also have much to learn about English and I still struggle with it. I’m also a slow writer and it can be a little bit frustrating, because I am bubbling over with story ideas. At the moment I am editing two anthologies, and this will require much of my time. I am also working on two larger projects and I must soon decide which I will concentrate on finishing first.

ACW: Thank you for stopping by!

Thank you so much for having me!

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It’s the Final Clown Down

It’s hard to believe it, but we are in the final stretch of the Kickstarter for Clowns: The Unlikely Coulrophobia Remix. We have 4 days to go, and while we’ve hit our funding goal, we’d love to be able to add even more stories to the anthology. With clowns, you can always fit in more than you think. Every $125 raised above our goal allows us to add another story. As of this writing, we have only $76 to go before we can add the next story.

On May 1, we’ll be re-opening to submissions for a month. We’ve updated our guidelines accordingly. The best way to get an idea of what we’re looking for with the anthology is to take a look at the current issue available free online. The five stories from the online issue will be reprinted in the anthology, along with six additional stories we already have in hand, and a to be determined number of new pieces from the open submission period.

Thank you to everyone who has supported the Kickstarter thus far. We could not do this without you! This is a new venture for us, and we’re very excited about it. Over the next few days, please do continue to signal boost the project if you can. True to the spirit of the anthology, we want to fit in as may clowns between our pages as possible.

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