Jeepers Peepers and all things Alyx

imageI am in the process of adjusting to new glasses, a shiny new prescription that was probably six months to a year overdue, and just enough of a change that I have to pay close attention whenever I’m in motion. Each time I’ve gotten new lenses, there has been a clumsy moment, and a fall. Since I’ve been working very hard to rehabilitate a sprained foot, I’m extremely keen to not damnwell fall.
(There should be a picture now, I know, but the week has been so packed that neither K or I has had a chance to shoot one. Soon!)
Other true things: I am in the midst of a mountain of marking for one of my UCLA classes, which is why  I haven’t been around much on social media. I busted out the heavy winter coats this week, since it has been five below and a little snowy. So far I’m finding the cool weather invigorating. (We’ll see how I feel when it’s like this in March!) I’m wrestling with a horror story that is meant to be subtle, and I suspect it would much rather not be.
My current fannish obsession is the TV show Gotham. I think it’s incredibly well cast, and decently (though not brilliantly) written, and I am very taken with Sean Pertwee’s Alfred.
Tell me about your fannish obsessions! Tell me if there’s anything you’d like to see a blog post about. Tell me things, things about you!

Alyx and Kelly – Unpaid Extras

imageI have been meaning to write a personal-type blog post,updating you all about all the things that aren’t book launches, book festivals, book stuff. But the fact of the matter is, there hasn’t been much.

This isn’t to say it’s been some long drudge of all work and no play. All of these events have been packed with friends new and old. And it is very much starting to be the time of year when you’d rather be indoors, at a pub or whatever, hanging with your chums rather than roaming around out of doors.

It’s officially gotten cold today, really for the first time this winter. It’s ten below, sunny and clear, and we broke out the winter coats. On our first fully-swaddled outing down Simcoe Street, we walked through the Beauty & the Beast crew, shooting a scene on a side-road that had been made over into New York’s Canal Street. Cameras were rolling, and we mingled with actors dressed as NYPD officers as we made our way down toward K’s office.

Why don’t they make us stop walking until they’ve got the shot?

Other random non-worky things: There was a cardinal at my window yesterday, while I was working on grading some UCLA stuff. They still seem novel and extra-delightful to me. And later, when I was walking down Dundas Street, I walked past a restaurant that was having some kind of police incident. It had obviously been evacuated midway through lunch: through the windows, beyond the police tape, was a wholly empty dining room, dozens of tables, each covered in plates full of half-eaten food. A little eerie.

If there’s anything about life that you’re all wondering, let me know. If there’s anything you’d like me to blog about–writing-related, photography-themed, you name it–tell me that too.

More importantly, what’s up with all of you? The holidays are coming–37 sleeps to December 25! What are you doing with the rest of 2014?

Fracture Launch Tuesday Night

imageTomorrow evening there will be a dual launch for two Exile Editions anthologies: Dead North: Canadian Zombie Fiction, and Fractured: Tales of the Canadian Post-Apocalypse, both edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. The latter features my story “Snow Angels,” and I’ll be reading a snippet of it there. Other readers for the evening include: David Huebert, John Jantunen, Michael Matheson, Christine Ottoni, Tessa Brown and Frank Westcott.

This will be my third reading this week. I was at Inspire! courtesy of SFWA, on Friday and on Sunday I participated in the SFContario reading series, Hydra’s Hearth, with the gracious support of the Toronto Arts Council.

Child of a Hidden Sea has been getting a bit of press here and there: Kirkus mentioned it in conjunction with Inspire! . I had an interview in The Province with Peter Darbyshire http://blogs.theprovince.com/2014/11/12/catching-up-with-vancouver-er-toronto-writer-alyx-dellamonica/, and the delightful and excellent Nisi Shawl featured it in the Seattle Times, in an article about fictional adventuresses.

My SFContario Schedule

imageHere’s where you can find me at this weekend’s downtown SF convention…

Fan Writing – There and back again
Fanzines, ezines, and blogs come and go, and often return again in altered forms. What is it about fanzines that give them such resiliency? What are the advantages of these forms? What do readers and writers get from them? Friday 8PM – Gardenview
With Warren Buff, Neil Jamieson-Williams, Ed Treijs,

“Eppur Si Muove” (And Yet It Moves)
Charged with heresy for saying the planets orbit the sun, Galileo answered the Inquisition with the famous words that meant that truth could be seen regardless of the preferences of the powers that be. By what methods did Galileo influence both scholars and the wider culture of his time and the generations that followed? What have we learned, and failed to learn, from Galileo’s life and example? Saturday 11 AM – Ballroom B
with Dan Falk, Alex Pantaleev(M), Henry Spencer, David Stephenson

Fantasy and Science
What can the scientific method lend to fantasy? Does the presence of gods and magic exclude the need for science? Whether it leads to technology, or just a scientific understanding of the setting and magic, what can the practice of science add to fantasy? Saturday 1PM – Room 207
with Cenk Gokce (M), Alex Pantaleev, Ed Treijs

Author Branding
Gaining exposure can be a challenge for an author, whether experienced or brand new and shiny. Social media like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Google+ have important tools for reaching an audience. Merely having an account is not sufficient. How do you develop content to attract your target audience while being creative and standing out in the crowd? Can you keep a private social presence separate from your professional persona? Saturday 3 PM – Room 207
With Robin Hobb, An Tran, Peter Watts

Monsterless Horror
It’s often said that some of the most terrifying horror fictions stir fear without ghouls or gore. Is this true? What are the psychological horror tales that stay with us past the final page? Does the greatest terror lie within ourselves? Sunday 12 PM – Ballroom C
With Alisse Lee Goldenberg, David Lamb, David Nickle

Hydra’s Hearth – Hear Your Fave Authors Read!

ugly woman smallI am excited to announce that I am one of a number of local SF authors who will be appearing this weekend in the Hydra’s Hearth Reading Series, at the Ramada Plaza Hotel, 300 Jarvis Street. I’m closing out the series on Sunday, at 1:00 p.m.

These readings are long–an hour long, in fact. This means that for the first time in ages, you can hear me read a whole story instead of just a tantalizing beginning. The piece I’ve chosen is called “The Boy Who Would Not Be Enchanted.” It’s set on Stormwrack, the same world as Child of a Hidden Sea and “Among the Silvering Herd”; like the latter, it features Gale Feliachild, Garland Parrish of the sailing vessel Nightjar, along with the ship’s starry-eyed first mate, Tonio from Erinth. (Tonio’s first appearance is in “The Ugly Woman of Castello di Putti”“)

 

Though this reading series is tied into SFContario 5 and happening under its umbrella, by the grace of the Toronto Arts Council all readings are free and open to the public. So come, hear us! Here’s the whole schedule.
 
Fri 7 PM David Nickle
Fri 8 PM Douglas Smith
Fri 9 PM Derwin Mak
Sat 11 AM Madeline Ashby
Sat 12 PM Karl Schroeder
Sat 2 PM Hugh Spencer
Sat 3 PM Eric Choi
Sat 4 PM Robert J. Sawyer
Sat 5 PM Peter Watts
Sun 11 AM Michelle Sagara West
Sun 12 PM Lesley Livingstone
Sun 1 PM Me!

And if you’re wondering about my convention schedule and my Toronto Book Fair events, I’ll be posting those soon too.

You Asked For It: Female Authors in the Marketplace

imageWay back when I asked all of you to assign me some blog topics, Erica Redshift asked what I thought of the generally accepted wisdom that men read fewer books written by women. She’s at the beginning of her writing journey, and is, understandably, outraged to think that putting a woman’s name on her book might trim her potential audience.

I had her send me a few of the things she’s been reading on the subject, for context:

Want to be a Successful Writer? Be a Man! (from Jezebel).
Poetactics on women using male pseudonyms.
From Me, You and Books, an attempt to explain why. And Hannah, on W&N, on the same subject.

I’ve struggled for an embarrassingly long time with the question of how to reply. Preferential sexism among my readership is not something I give a lot of thought to in my day to day, or when I’m actually writing something. And yet… I can’t pretend I’ve never given it any thought. I have an idea that I have more female readers than male, but some of my most vocal and enthusiastic fans are guys. (You know who you are, I hope. I treasure you bigtime.)

I can certainly remember my first editor at Tor saying Indigo Springs was, unequivocally, “a girl book.”

It was only at my most recent appearance, in Bellevue Washington, that a number of twenty-something women–people I didn’t know, that is–turned out because they already knew who I was and loved my books.

When I chose to go with my initials as a byline, it was the Eighties. Part of my thinking was definitely about having a gender-neutral name. But some of that ties into my own gender identity, which isn’t exactly cisgendered female. There’s no James Tiptree, though, hiding behind that mysterious A.M.: I’m out and about on the Internet. Everyone who cares to knows who I am: it’s all there, probably, except my blood type.

Maybe I don’t think about it much, but I was on the founding Motherboard of Broad Universe, an organization that describes itself thusly:

We are a nonprofit international organization of women and men dedicated to celebrating and promoting the work of women writers of science fiction, fantasy and horror.

I don’t have a great problem with publishers identifying the target audience for my fiction and trying to market to the marketing at the people most likely to buy it. My publisher does a pretty great job of this, in my opinion. As for who reads my books, who loves my books… that’s entirely out of my hands. I write them. I certainly try to make them cool and lovable.

If someone isn’t into my stuff, I’m great with that.  Everyone should seek out fiction they love, right?

So the real question, for a female writer starting out, I think, is “Will this tell against me? If so, what can I do about it?”

I think the answers are the same as they’ve ever been: a) write the best stuff you can; b) Represent. Whether it’s by joining Broad Universe, blogging to support the writers you love, or even just telling someone at a party that Ilana C. Myer has a novel coming out next year and it’s  amazing,  OMG. Or mentoring talented younger writers, and maybe keeping an eye peeled for people who might fall through the cracks because of gender, or race, or physical ability, or abundant social awkwardness, or whatever, y’know?

Celebrate the good guys. If you take on bad guys, pick your fights carefully, and avoid sticking knives, metaphorical or literal, into your peers’ backs.

Basic human stuff, in other words.

(Erica, I’m sorry this took so long. I kept thinking if I revisited the draft of this essay every week or so, I’d come to some profound insight or another. It did spark some things, but nothing that quite fit into this essay.)

The Lesser Dead, by Christopher Buehlman

bookzombieSo, everyone, what are you reading these days?

Christopher Buehlman’s The Lesser Dead has been out for about a month now, and if you like your horror horrible (as opposed to romantic, edgy, or cuddlesome) I cannot recommend it enough. Here’s my review at Tor.com, in which I try to say more than “oohh, oooh, squee, squee!”

This week I am reading fourteen student novel openings and a book that won’t be out until 2015. Sneak peeks are one of the perks of the job, and I’m looking forward to telling you about this one closer to its release date.

Propitious Birds (Toronto Day 532)

imageA thing about living right downtown here is I mostly see sparrows and pigeons. Starlings, sometimes. Grackles and gulls, for sure. I’ve had cardinals and finches in the tree outside my window, there’s a young raptor who taunts me on Queen Street when I’m out without the big zoom camera, and I can go to the lakeshore for ducks and cormorants. It’s not as though the birds aren’t here.

But, day to day, it’s mostly sparrowkind.

In Vancouver last week I caught glimpses of all my faves: crows (commuting crows, by the hundreds!), starlings, great blue herons, three species of duck, bushtits, cormorants, and a glimpse of northern flicker. I thought I’d have to content myself with the scolding of a Stellar’s jay in the bushes, but it turns out my sister-in-law feeds them. I almost collided with one Monday on my way out the door; it was headed to a clutch of peanuts on the kitchen windowsill.

It was satisfying and soul-nourishing, and a nice concrete example of a difference, neither good nor bad, between Then and Now. But not truly between Here and There, because if I’d got a house outside of the downtown core, I’d be hip-deep in feathery company.

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