Alyx Dellamonica

The Greatness of Friday, with Pirates

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Posted on July 3, 2015 by

CD705BB0-1279-4611-A3E6-503A5977A6B9Brain Food: Kelly and I spent a few hours at the Royal Ontario Museum‘s Pompeii exhibit, checking out the mosaics and the lava, the buried household goods and statuary, the centuries-old flash-preserved olives and figs and the plaster casts of victims’ bodies. Afterward, we went upstairs to Viva Mexico and marveled at the intricacy of the weaving and embroidery.

Kudos for the Deserving: There are some good reviews and kudos out for Kelly’s “Waters of Versailles,” here at SF Signal’s Women to Watch and at Quick Sips. There’s also a James Patrick Kelly editorial in Asimovs, about Kelly and some other people who’ve broken into that magazine lately. It’s called meet the firsties.   It’s meant, among other things, to remind aspiring writers that they might be… nextie!

Still Seeking Scenius: My regular writing date with Gemma Files and Madeline Ashby had a special guest star–author Charlene Challenger, whose The Voices in Between
is currently on the Sunburst and Aurora Award ballots for English Language YA. We went to a new-to-me place, the Istanbul Cafe, which was a completely lovely working environment, and where they played every hit of the Eighties that I ever wanted to sing along and/or boogie to.

My Teenage Cheeseball Obsession: The very best thing that happened this week was that I giggle every time I walk down to Queen Street, because the local shrine to vinyl here on St. Patrick, a store that often has some hilarious blast from the past in its window, had this:

pirate movie

And now this is happening to you, oh yeah:

Jessica Reisman answers heroine questions

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Posted on July 1, 2015 by

raygunsovertexasJessica Reisman’s “The Chambered Eye,” in Rick Klaw’s Rayguns Over Texas anthology, was one of Gardner Dozois’s Honorable Mention picks for the Year’s Best Science Fiction in 2013. Her stories have appeared in many magazines and anthologies. Reisman’s first novel, The Z Radiant, published by Five-Star Speculative Fiction, was described as, “thinking reader’s sci-fi.” Her story “Threads” was awarded a Southeastern Science Fiction Achievement Award. She was a Michener Fellow in Fiction in graduate school and is one of my beloved Clarion West classmates. See her website for more.

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?

As a child it was an amalgam of all the heroines of the Scholastic Book mysteries I read, and the heroines of Mary Stewart’s mysteries. A little later in life I really imprinted on a couple of C.J. Cherryh’s heroines, specifically Bet from Rimrunners and Raen from Serpent’s Reach.

Can you remember what it was she did or what qualities she had that captured your affections and your imagination so strongly?

With the mystery heroines, it was their brave no-nonsense intelligence and good will as young women left alone in the world and faced with nefarious doings. With both Bet and Raen, it was their cussedness, reckless heroism, and somewhat dominant way with a pretty young man.

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 heroines owe her?

All these heroines are definitely the literary ancestors of my female characters; the gene sets are clear–to me, at least.

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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. This link will take you to the other interviews, with awesome people like Martha Wells, Jane Lindskold, and Gemma Files.

Friday pleasantries…

Posted on June 26, 2015 by

(null)Uno: I have the pass proofs for A Daughter of No Nation! This means I am one careful read-through away from being able to call this book … well, it’s already a book. And it’s already done. Medium rare? Even more done?

On a related note, a few metrics have come in that make it clear to me that more than one of you bought Child of a Hidden Sea and Among the Silvering Herd last week when many lovely folks were pushing the idea of buying Tor books and authors  for all the reasons. I want to thank you all for supporting me, my fellow Tor authors, and my publisher.

Due: The most recent round of feedback from my UCLA Novel Writing III students was extra-wonderful. They had a good time, they learned much, they loved each other, and they said glowing things about me. The feeling was mutual–they were an exceptionally hardworking and dedicated group, and there were some great breakthroughs.

These comments come in the form of anonymous comments on a survey, with numerical ratings. I don’t see the answers until final grades are posted. There’s no kiss-up factor, and often where there is a critical comment, it’s about something I can address before teaching the same class the next time. But it was extra nice, in a week with germs and other challenges, to get a perfect score. The student happiness with the most recent course was also gratifying because I have been restructuring these courses all year–UCLA changed its classroom software–and what I think this means, at least in part, is that after wrangling with Canvas for three terms, I’ve found the best way to teach, me-styles, within this new course shell.

Tre: I have the world’s most ridiculous reason for being excited about Ant-Man. Which is that it’s being released on Kelly’s birthday. (I do also like Paul Rudd.) Clearly anything associated with Kelly’s birthday is already a brilliant thing, covered in sparkly, and best accompanied by some delicious Prosecco.

Also, I think one of our oldest friends is coming to town that weekend. Hmmm, I should write to her.

(This is an experiment – @KellyRobson)

Connie Willis essay, other things…

Posted on June 25, 2015 by

3891536336_0d52c64a4c1.jpgI have a post up on Tor.com called “Where to Start with Connie Willis.” The title’s self-explanatory, and there’s a lively conversation in the comments thread about how communications technology does or doesn’t fit into her work, and whether the age of the smartphone has left Willis’s main body of work looking somewhat dated… and also, of course, how much that may or may not matter.

In completely other news, Child of a Hidden Sea is on the Sunburst Award Honorable Mention list, in the YA category. Peter Darbyshire of The Province has a write-up on some of short list folks from B.C. here.

Darbyshire, by the way, also writes as Peter Roman and when wearing that hat he is the author of The Mona Lisa Sacrifice, among other fabulous things.

Kelly and I are heading out tonight to see the National Theater in HD and Helen Mirren broadcast “The Audience.” I tell you this mostly because I am feeling “Three Things make a Post”-y.

I am still a bit behind on e-mail, but catching up bit by bit.

 

 

Caitlin Sweet gets onto the Heroine thing

Posted on June 24, 2015 by

Huens-LloydAlexander18x30Caitlin Sweet is the author of three adult fantasy novels: A Telling of Stars (Penguin Canada, 2003), The Silences of Home (Penguin Canada, 2005), and The Pattern Scars (Chizine Publications, 2011). The Door in the Mountain (Chizine Publications, 2014) is her first young adult book, and it is on the shortlist for this year’s Sunburst Award, whose jury says:

Sweet has fashioned a gorgeously dangerous world ruled by equal parts beauty, magic, violence, and the whims of gods.

The sequel, The Flame in the Maze, will be published in fall 2015. Her first three books were nominated for Locus Best First Novel, Aurora, and Sunburst Awards; The Pattern Scars won the CBC Bookie Award in the Science Fiction, Fantasy or Speculative Fiction category.

I asked, first:

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?

Eilonwy, daughter of Angharad—the high-spirited princess of the House of Llyr, who tossed her red-gold hair all the way through the five books of Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles.

Can you remember what it was she did or what qualities she had that captured your affections and your imagination so strongly?

I was seven when I first encountered Eilonwy. At the time I believed I might, in fact, be a princess from another world who’d been dropped off on this one, and left here far longer than intended, due to some cataclysm or other. Eilonwy was the princess I yearned to be. I knew it the moment I heard her voice and saw that red-gold hair: she was young, smart, quippy, beautiful, and royal, thrown in with a ragged band of misfits and swept up in adventures that got her dirty and wounded. When the men around her whined and moaned, she was undaunted. I thought this undauntedness was absolutely wonderful.

I re-read the Prydain books many times, over the years. When I was fourteen, I thought, “She’s the only one of the companions who’s female: of course she’s beautiful and smart and young. Of course she had to end up with the handsome young man, who of course turned out to be a king. Also: she stamps her foot a lot. And her eyes do a great deal of flashing.”

But analysis and cynicism always passed, as I read and re-read. These were my friends. The longing to slip into their world with them has always been there—even now, flipping through pages (when the longing is, of course, thickened with a healthy dollop of nostalgia).

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 heroines owe her?

Not a single one of my female characters is like Eilonwy, because my worlds are nothing like Prydain—none of my published worlds, anyway. I did write a book when I was seventeen that featured a bunch of high fantasy tropes, and a young woman with red-gold hair, whose name was Aelwen.

That’s as close as I got. (It was, admittedly, pretty close.) I went out of my way to avoid tropes, in my later writing. Though there are a queen and a princess in my second book, the former is psychopathic, and the latter falls in love with an enemy captive and dies tragically, setting in motion a string of hideous events. Come to think of it, a queen and princess also feature in The Pattern Scars—but there’s absolutely no quippy undauntedness about them. (The princess never even learns to walk, let alone quip. Plus, she’s blind.) Aaand, as it happens, my Cretan books, The Door in the Mountain and The Flame in the Maze are centred around a deeply unlikeable princess who twists everything she sets her twisted mind to. The royalty thing does seem to have stuck.

Beyond that, though: no Prydain.

Eilonwy was the person I wished I could be when I was seven, and certain that magic had to be real. My own female characters are the people who intrigue me, now that I know it isn’t.

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When not working on her own books (which, sadly, is most of the time), Caitlin Sweet is a writer at the Ontario Government, and a genre writing workshop instructor at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. She lives in Toronto with her family, which includes a science fiction-writing husband, two teenagers, four cats, a hamster, a bunch of fish, and a passel of itinerant raccoons.

If this interview leaves you hungry for more about Caitlin Sweet, check out this post by Peter Watts, here, about the Sunburst nod.

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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. The link will take you to the other interviews, with awesome people like Martha Wells, Jane Lindskold, and Gemma Files.

Also about this post: A friend has recently asked about my use of the gendered word, heroine, in this series. I could have gone with hero, true, or female heroes. To be honest, my initial inspiration came from a desire to make puns: Gemma Files on Heroin! Oops! That kind of thing. I hope to get up a post that takes the answer further than “I pun, therefore I am.” And I have folded a question about this word into the later interviews; you’ll see other writers talking about it, too, in a few weeks’ time.

 

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