The always awesome Corey Redekop has been interviewing the authors who participated in the all-Canadian James Bond anthology License Expired. Here’s what I had to say about “Through Your Eyes Only,” my Moneypenny story set in 1974 Saigon. And here’s Kelly’s interview on “The Gladiator Lie.”
Kelly, in case you haven’t noticed, is having an outstanding rookie year. I’m proud to say her “Waters of Versailles” is on the Nebula suggested list in the novella category. You can read it for free at Tor.com, and I guarantee you won’t be sorry. For a list of her other fiction, check out this list on her site.
Dreaming Death by J. Kathleen Cheney
J. Kathleen Cheney is a former teacher and has taught mathematics ranging from 7th grade to Calculus, with a brief stint as a Gifted and Talented Specialist. Her novella “Iron Shoes” was a 2010 Nebula Award Finalist. Her novel, The Golden City was a Finalist for the 2014 Locus Awards (Best First Novel). The final book in that series, The Shores of Spain came out in July, and a new series will debut in February 2016 with Dreaming Death.
Is there a literary heroine on whom you imprinted as a child? A first love, a person you wanted to become as an adult, a heroic girl or woman you pretended to be on the playground at recess? Who was she?
I still have two books from second grade, and one of them is The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare. I don’t know how heroic one would consider Kit Tyler, the main character of the book. She doesn’t fight a battle, kill demons, or win the rich gentleman’s heart (actually, she does that last one but hands it back.) I admired her anyway.
I loved that book too! What was it Kit did–what qualities did she have that captured your affections and your imagination so strongly?
What Kit Tyler does is defy expectations. That’s what I admired about her. She didn’t do things simply because she’d been told to do so. Since I seem to be wired that way myself, I could relate to most of her decisions.
Some of them came from simple ignorance on her part. For example, her inability to make decent corn pudding because she’s too impatient–I understand that all too well. To this day, I lack patience in cooking.
Kit makes mistakes, and most of the time she learns from them. But a lot of her defiance is borne of a willingness to look past other peoples’ prejudices and let her conscience drive her instead. And because of that she teaches a young girl to read and makes friends with the title witch. When she’s falsely accused or witchcraft herself, she faces down her accusers in court (with the help of her friends)….even though she was given a chance to escape her jail earlier and run away. She did what she thought was right, though, while knowing it might have a terrible outcome.
Of course, because it’s a novel, things come out all right in the end.
How does she compare to the female characters in your work? Is she their literary ancestor? Do they rebel against all she stands for? What might your creations owe her?
I would like to think that most of my heroines do the right thing, even if it’s not what they’re told to do, not the socially accepted thing, or not the most financially sound decision. In a lot of ways, they do go back to that second grade reading experience. They make mistakes. I want them to learn from them, like Kit Tyler did (although I will eschew the corn pudding experience.)
And I want them to make the hard choice, the choice that they could have worked around.
Hard choices are what make a heroine, even if she’s not killing demons.
Bonus round: How do you feel about the word heroine? In these posts, I am specifically looking for authors’ female influences, whether those women they looked up to were other writers or Anne of Green Gables. Does the word heroine have a purpose that isn’t served by equally well by hero?
In most ways, hero and heroine are the same, the protagonist of the story. But heroine carries one added factor: the heroine usually has to defy societal norms. In most cultures, men are expected to step up while women are expected to wait. And that’s where a heroine’s actions can be much more subtle, yet still be heroic. In some places, heroism might be something as small as wearing trousers or going to school or talking to someone your family doesn’t approve of. And while men can face similar challenges, in most places, the bar is harder for women to cross. So I feel like the word heroine has that additional baggage attached.
About this post: The Heroine Question is my name for a series of short interviews with female writers about their favorite characters and literary influences. Clicking the link will allow you to browse all the other interviews, with awesome people like Linda Nagata, Kay Kenyon, and Louise Marley. If you prefer something more in the way of an actual index, it’s here.
There are a lot of things about Experimental Film that are gaspworthy, horrifying, disturbing and exciting, and I hope to talk more about this book as time spools, but right now I just want to give you five reasons to read the living hell out of this awesome new horror novel from Gemma Files.
- Lois Cairns is not your standard protagonist – Lois is a woman in the midst of a profound midlife crisis. Her career has evaporated out from under her, her son’s autistic and difficult, and she can’t shake a nagging idea that it’s all her fault. She’s not twenty, or adorable, or on the cusp of love. But she’s smart and determined and fearless, and she knows more about movies than most of us could learn if we spent the next fifty years studying up.
2. The bad stuff isn’t lurking in the shadows. You know how vampires and spooks wait for it to get dark and dreary, and then creep up on you? You know that idea that you can barricade yourself in somewhere safe, and at dawn it’ll all be over for awhile? Not in this story. The dread thing in Experimental Film comes at you in the full light of a summer’s day, in all its searing heat and blinding glare.
3. I heart Haunted Toronto. This book is another piece in the creepy patchwork universe Files has created, and I love it with a love that’s true. Her characters have lunch down the street from my house. They get into full-on confrontations with monsters at the Kensington Market. And there’s always an expedition out to the backroads of cabin country, a part of the province I really haven’t seen yet, where the skin between worlds is thin and permeable and something far more disturbing than a Hellmouth is on the bubble.
4. Victorian Creep Factor, Canada Styles. The mystery at the heart of this book is about an early auteur filmmaker working in the days of silver nitrate and no rules. Iris Whitcomb made the same movie over and over, with the aid of spiritualists, as she tried to discover why her son Hyatt vanished in 1908. Then she vanished too, from a moving train whose passenger compartment apparently caught on fire en route to the city.
5. Crunchy family stuff rounds out the dark notes. This brings us back, in a way, to the idea of an atypical hero. Lois is no lone wolf. She may want to be at times; she may be unconvinced she’s got much worthwhile going on as a wife and mother. But as she wrangles with the missing Iris and her incandescent producer, she also has to deal with her child, her marriage, her in-laws, and her own often-problematic mom. It’s not always easy to read–plenty of folks will find their own family-of-origin nerves twanging as things play out–but it’s very believable. And what good is a horror novel if you don’t feel, on some level, as if this could have happened to someone like you?
Gemma did a Heroine Question interview here back in June, by the way, so if you’re curious about who she liked to read about as a kid, check it out.
One short week! It’ll surprise none of you to hear that I am spending a lot of time right now doing interviews and writing guest blog posts as I gear up for the release of my fourth novel, A Daughter of No Nation.
There’s going to be a launch on December 5th at 3:00 p.m. at Bakka-Phoenix Books… let me know if you need more details. If you are in Toronto, or can get here, you’re most cordially invited.
Three other things of the book:
- Tor.com, as you may recall, has an excerpt up for your free reading pleasure.
- Kirkus Reviews praised both the main character, Sophie Hansa and the worldbuilding on Stormwrack. “Fans of Stormwrack will welcome another chance to set sail with Sophie.“
- Publisher’s Weekly liked it, saying “Dellamonica expands on promising worldbuilding and delivers a fantasy tale of messy family politics and social justice with plenty of action and suspense.“
“The Glass Galago”
I am pleased to announce that Christopher Morgan at Tor.com has bought the fourth of The Gales, a story called “Losing Heart Among the Tall,” which tells the story of how Gale Feliachild and Garland Parrish convinced Gale’s sister, Beatrice, to hide a certain powerful object that plays a big role in the conspiracy at the heart of Child of a Hidden Sea.
This fantastic news comes hard on the heels of receiving my beautiful Richard Anderson cover art for the third of The Gales, “The Glass Galago,” which will be out early next year.
I thought I’d celebrate by running down the list of every last one of the fictional things I have on the Tor site, available to anyone who’s interested for absolutely free.
So! A Daughter of No Nation will be out in 13 days, and you can read an early chapter of the book here! This novel is the sequel to Child of a Hidden Sea, and here’s the excerpt for that.
The Gales, meanwhile, are prequels to the above two novels. First in order is “Among the Silvering Herd,” and the second is called “The Ugly Woman of Castello di Putti.”
Moving on to a completely different series, you can check out my sexy novelette, “Wild Things,” which is a tie-in to the world of my award winning first novel Indigo Springs and its sequel, Blue Magic.
Last but by no means least, I have two stand-alone works: a time travel horror story called “The Color of Paradox” and my ever-popular ‘baby werewolf has two mommies’ story, “The Cage,” which made the Locus Recommended Reading List for 2010.