Category Archives: Guest Post

Across the Universe

I feel like I’ve been neglecting this poor little blog over here, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been blogging. I’ve been scattering bits of wisdom (or not) in various places across the web. For instance, I recently wrote a guest post about bugs and speculative fiction for SF Signal, based on a presentation my Journal of Unlikely Entomology co-editor, Bernie Mojzes, and I recently gave at Balticon.

Also at SF Signal, I picked up where I left off on this blog with a new Women to Read post, recommending women whose work I think you should read and where I think you should start. I’m hoping to make this a semi-regular guest post series.

Over at Apex, I have a guest post about pre-Romero zombies and the Haitian/West African zombie tradition. This follows my post last month about the H.P. Lovecraft Society’s brilliant, low-budget, silent Call of Cthulhu movie.

And there’s more to come! Later this summer, I’ll be guest blogging for Shimmer about warriors and gender and other things in relation to my story How Bunny Came to Be in Shimmmer #17. I’ll even be posting things on this blog right here (believe it or not) as E. Catherine Tobler has graciously agreed to let me interview her in relation to her forthcoming novel Gold & Glass. Spoiler alert: I’ll probably ask her about cupcakes. Stay tuned!


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An Interview With Tails Creator Ethan Young

A new year is upon us, and so to kick things off in style, I present for your reading pleasure an interview with author and artist Ethan Young.

ACW: Thank you for taking the time to chat with me! You’re the creator of Tails, a webcomic, which is now being released in print form by Hermes Press. For those who aren’t familiar with Tails, can you provide a quick summary?


EY: Thanks for having me, Alison. In a nutshell, Tails is a semi-autobiographical comedy with a dose of epic fantasy. There are slice-of-life stories layered in between metaphorical comic book adventures, all propelled by the narrative of a hapless, cat-loving vegan cartoonist (yes, based on me, the book being semi-autobiographical and all).

ACW: Given the semi-autobiographical nature of the story, where do you draw the line between fiction and reality in your work? Are there certain things you won’t write about, even fictionalized, or is everything fair game?

EY: 99% of life is fair game, but I do exercise a certain amount of restraint and decency when it comes to privacy. I rarely ever use a person’s real name, and I’ll change a person’s appearance if I don’t have their permission. But almost all the real-life stories have a footing in reality, it just so happens that it’s my personalized version of reality.

ACW: As a follow up to that question, do people expect you to be exactly like the character Ethan? How do your friends and family feel about your characters? Do you ever get the sense they’re censoring themselves around you so you won’t write something they’ve said or done into a comic?

EY: If a person has met me first, the comic acts as an additional peek into my psyche. If a reader is familiar with my comic first, they seem pleasantly surprised by how nice and approachable I am in real life. I don’t necessarily go out of my way to highlight my own faults, but I certainly crafted a flawed protagonist, which can be off-putting to a lot of comic readers.

My friends and family are generally not worried about what goes into Tails. I usually give a heads-up to friends if I’ve used their character as a plot device, just in case they get offended. There are times when I need a character to be a straw-man or another character to divulge the moral of the tale – which is technically putting words in their mouths – so I just warn them. Like I said, it’s my personalized version of reality.

ACW: Aside from real-life, what are some of the influences that lead to the creation of Tails? Are there artists or writers whose work inspired you? Personally, The Crusader Cat moments in Tails make me think of Snoopy Flying Ace and Calvin and Hobbes.

EY: Yes, Calvin and Hobbes is definitely a huge influence. Funny thing is – I wasn’t exposed to Calvin and Hobbes until my mid-twenties (having not grown up with American newspapers in the house or any of the collected volumes lying around). The comic is certainly kid-friendly, but its sardonic wit can only be appreciated as an adult, so I’m glad I discovered it when I did. Bill Watterson masterfully balanced fantasy and reality, and it continues to be an enduring inspiration to me.

I’ve seen comic creators do swaps sometimes, where they draw each others’ strips. Have you ever swapped with another artist? Is there anyone whose world you’d like to play in, or anyone whose take on Tails you’d like to see?

EY: I did a guest strip for Ménage a 3 a while back, but that was it. I’m open to see anyone’s interpretation on my characters, so long as it’s interesting.

Aside from Tails, are there any other projects you’re working on or that you have coming up?

EY: I was working on Comeback Kings from Ardden Entertainment last year, but the production on that comic has halted due to scheduling conflicts and my overall workload. It’s very touch and go with some companies, so who knows.

After I’m done wrapping up the third volume of Tails (which will be posted as chapters 16 – 20 on, I’m planning to step away from that particular story and focus on a darker sci-fi story I’ve been keeping on the back burner. But nothing’s written in stone, so we’ll see. I may change my mind when the time comes.

ACW: Thank you again for taking the time to drop by and chat!

EY: Thanks again for having me, Alison!

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Moving the World

Today, I’m delighted to have a guest post by Mike, Linda, and Louisa Carey, talking about gender politics, and their new novel The Steel Seraglio. There’s a free sample of The Steel Seraglio available here, and the book is available in paperback or as an e-book from ChiZine Publications. If you’re the visual sort, there’s also a lovely trailer for The Steel Seraglio, which you can find here. Now, without further ado, welcome, Mike, Linda, and Louise!

“Did the earth move for you?”

This phrase from Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls is a comment that could never be made with a straight face, these days – raising the bar for sexual performance to an ironically impossible high, the better to handle the disappointment when the experience falls short.

In that novel, when Robert puts the question to Pilar, he is anxious to find out if their lovemaking had the same impact on her as it did on him. The character’s concern is amplified in Hemingway’s behaviour towards his first wife, Hadley Richardson. Papa is our poster boy for a certain tendency in human behaviour: the overbearing and possessive side of romantic attraction. When they lived together in Paris, Hemingway is said to have resented Hadley’s few friendships fiercely, and tried hard to shake her free from any attachment that wasn’t to him. (We’ll get back to the whole earth-moving thing later.)

Possessiveness in love is probably a universal human trait. Different people feel it and express it in different ways, and give in to it or resist it to differing extents, but it tends to be there, in some form, in every relationship, however it may choose to disguise itself. Along with all the other intense emotions that romantic/sexual attraction brings, there is usually somewhere in the mix this sense that the bond between you and the person you love is special and unique, that you have a stake in areas of that other person’s life that may not even directly concern you: that you’ve got a right to speak up if your lover is spending too much time with friends, or not sitting next to you all evening, or wearing clothes that are too revealing. There are an infinite number of gradations, from the unexceptional and banal to the obsessive, controlling, perverse and indefensible.

What’s even more disturbing, though, is when the relationship is over and one or other of the two former partners feels unable or unwilling to let go of that sense of possessiveness and entitlement. We have a good friend whose marriage collapsed after she discovered that her husband was having an affair. Inexplicably, when she finally went back to dating, the ex-husband felt entitled to discourage potential wooers by slashing their car tyres and in one case administering a beating.

Continue reading

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