Category Archives: My Short Stories

Posts about my published short fiction and any works underway.

The many maps of Stormwrack

Posted on May 2, 2014 by

image Paul Weimer of SF Signal asks: Do I have a map for Child of a Hidden Sea?

I must, right? You write a portal fantasy, and one of the perks must be that you get a gorgeous map, drawn by a professional, with Game of Thrones steampunky fabulousness and vast deserts and picturesquely named verdant forests, all populated by something way cooler than Ewoks.

This is one of my favorite kinds of question, because there are several answers, and some of them just about contradict each other.

Answer #1 – Yes! Stormwrack is the same size as Earth, though its orbital tilt and the length of its day are different. It takes 365 days to orbit its sun. Zero latitude and the international date line run through the great Verdanii city of Moscasipay, which is the home of something Wrackers call a World Clock. In more comprehensible terms, the Greenwich of this world is located on the same latitude as present-day Saskatoon.

I made the above choices because I wanted to be able to look at a map of our world and say “Okay, The Autumn District of Sylvanna is roughly where Tennessee is, and that means the sailing time from Moscasipay, in a ship moving at X speed, is Y days.” This makes things much easier for me, as someone who has some deficits in the map-reading area. It also fits with my having given Stormwrack many Earth-like qualities: the same gravity, tides, a similar ebb and flow of the seasons.

Answer #2 – No! There will be no actual map printed in Child of a Hidden Sea.

Why? Stormwrack is mostly ocean. The land there takes the form of small archipelagos of islands. They’re much like the Galapagos: little blobs of terrain, each with its own microclimate. The biggest land mass is, again, Verdanii, and that’s not even as big as Australia. So here’s the problem: a map of the whole world, printed at the size of even a double hardcover page, would be water, water, water and more water. Take a page of blue construction paper, sprinkle a pinch of basil on it, and you’ll get the idea.

Aha, you may be thinking, do a partial! Excellent point. Some months ago I had a conversation with my editor, Stacy Hague-Hill, about whether there could be a map of the region where Child of a Hidden Sea takes place. But Nightjar crosses from one archipelago to another in this book: Sophie visits Stele Island and then Erinth (the island where “The Ugly Woman of Castello di Putti” is set.) She sails from there to a place called Tallon and finally ends up hooking up with the Fleet of Nations, at sea. There are also a few stops in San Francisco.

In the second and third books, Sophie and Parrish spend a fair amount of time on Sylvanna, without so much zipping around, so maybe we’ll revisit the issue.

Another Yes! Of course I have an actual map of Stormwrack at home, laid out atop of a map of Earth, with pins marking important locations and saying which sea is which.

But also, No! Since I can’t draw, at all, the islands on the above-mentioned artifact look like someone pounded a bunch of Pop Rocks and blue-green wax crayons into some silly putty and threw it all into their microwave.

Finally, Yes and No–there are lies! I have a Gale story drafted, called “Island of the Giants.” In it, Parrish finds out that the official Fleet Maps of Stormwrack contain some politically motivated fibs. I don’t know yet when Sophie’s going to work that one out, but I promise she will be deeply unimpressed.

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Paul Weimer was kind enough to pitch me this question a couple of weeks ago when I started asking what all of you who read this blog might want to know, about me or the books or, really, anything.

Here’s the original request. I am still gratefully taking your questions.

Toronto, Day 335

Posted on April 17, 2014 by

imageI am still working on answering Blaise’s question: are editors still needed? And I’m pondering your other questions, excited about answering them, and grateful to know what interests you. If you haven’t weighed in yet and there’s something you want to know, tell me! I’m happily building up the list of requests.

In the meantime, a few current snippets of news from the land of Dua Moving Insanity:

–We got the keys to the new place this week, and floors are going in. The shower may be leaky, so we’re going to look into fixing it ASAP. Since it’s the one truly gnarly-looking thing in the place, this is going to turn out to be a blessing. I am packing boxes and have just about reached the point where I’m going to be hiding away things we will actually want but not need between now and next week.

–Okay, there’s one other gnarly looking thing, but it’s so outrageous and improbable that I’ll tell you about it another time.

–The new place is also grubby. I keep reminding myself that when we moved into Woodland Drive in 2001, the apartment was omg, seriously, so filthy! This isn’t bad. Another improvement on our 2001 experience is that  the previous owners at Dua Central didn’t fail to move out a whole bunch of wall art, furniture and a seventy billion pound exercise bike. We’re really ahead this time! Nevertheless, Kelly and I plan to spend Good Friday scrubbing. If you’re in Toronto and want to drop by to see us cleanifying an empty apartment, shoot me a text. And just so you know, I do mean see us cleanifying. You will not be allowed to help.

–“The Color of Paradox” and “Snow Angels” have hit the next stage of pre-publication, which means editors Ellen Datlow and Silvia Moreno-Garcia, respectively, have sent me notes on them, small questions about things that may need fixing. I’ve been so delighted to have a chance to write a few stories this year, and it’s nice to see these moving through the process.

–Although we will not do anything about acquiring new offspring before we are in Dua Central, Kelly and I have jumped a few pre-adoption hoops at a no-kill cat shelter here in the city. It turns out that being able to perform basic tasks like brushing my hair, cooking, walking across the room, lying in bed unconscious and drinking water from a glass–not to mention packing all my worldly goods!–without constant feline supervision is simply depressing. I cannot handle the autonomy.

–We went to the monthly ChiSeries reading featuring Sam Bieko, Keith Hollihan, and Jerome Stueart, with comical SF-themed songs by Kari Maaren and Peter Chiykowski. It was a terrific night. The readings were great, the musicians hilarious and we saw many friends. I’ll be one of the readers in July–I’ll let you know more as the date approaches.

New Story – “The Ugly Woman of Castello Di Putti”

Posted on March 5, 2014 by

ugly woman small
Here’s what Tor.com says about “The Ugly Woman of Castello Di Putti,” which is live on the site today. (The lovely cover illustration is by Richard Anderson)

Returning to the world of Stormwrack where she set the Tor.com story “Among the Silvering Herd,” A.M. Dellamonica offers a new story that takes us deeper into this fascinating world, the setting of her new fantasy novel Child of a Hidden Sea.

The Fleet, integral to the governing of a world that is mostly water sprinkled with a number of islands, must deal with a unique form of magic, inscription, which is so subtle that its effects can sometimes only be known in retrospect. When a ship of the Fleet visits an island where scripping is common, the crew members of the sailing vessel Nightjar are at a disadvantage when faced with local matters of which they know little. Strangers on the shore, indeed, they may enjoy the local customs… but also may attract unwanted attention that could cost them more than embarrassment or money.

The Castello di Putti has a suggestive sound to it, but don’t be deceived. This is a story of civil strife, of culture shock, and ultimately of the risks and rewards of naval duty. Filled with Dellamonica’s fresh, inventive worldbuilding and the joie de vivre of a society in flux, it shows a side of Stormwrack very different from that presented in the previous tale.

Here’s the opening paragraph:

They had barely come ashore before the riot started.
Sindria, capital of Erinth, was a city of black marble and volcanic glass, a dark architectural foundation layered in color and light. Carved urns and stone window boxes built into the structures all burst with bougainvillea and daisies. Fruit trees nodded along the avenues, laden with oranges, lemons, and sun-burnished golden plums.
As they strode up from the landing, they passed a young couple, a fine-featured woman and handsome man, decked out in vivid fabrics, leaning on each other and sharing the support of a sturdy hardwood walker.

Things are getting dirty on the @Tordotcom #Buffyrewatch

Posted on March 4, 2014 by

slayerThis week’s Buffy essay covers “Dirty Girls.” I hope you all enjoy it! One of my favorite things about S7 is the return of Faith, in her new, less evil and slightly more grown-up persona. It’s still a delight this time around.

It has been an action-packed few days: Kelly and I attended the SpecFic Colloquium hosted by Chizine Publications. One of the guests, writer and editor Silvia Moreno-Garcia, stayed with us, and it was a pleasure to get to know her better. (Silvia has recently bought a story, “Snow Angels” from me for her FRACTURED: TALES OF THE CANADIAN APOCALYPSE anthology.)

Later this week we’ll be hooking up with more friends of ours from Vancouver–Rachel Ashe is in town and has an art opening at the Gladstone; the show is called “If These Walls Could Talk.”

Before then, though, there’s grading to be done and the penultimate Buffy essay to be written. I am a few weeks ahead of Tor, of course, so I’ll be writing about “End of Days” this week and “Chosen” after that. I can’t believe I’m so close to wrapping up the rewatch!

Things that are Wild: Peter Watts and I share a Polish cover…

Posted on February 26, 2014 by

My Tor.com story “Wild Things” has been translated into Polish! It’s in Nowa Fantastyka, and the issue also includes a column by Peter Watts on… I may have to get back to you on that.

This is my first foreign translation of any kind, so it’s a landmark of sorts for me. It’s also just plain nifty.
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Here’s the cover.

Other things in the life of me: my Creating Universes, Building Worlds students have turned in their final stories, so I am writing critiques not quite day and night. My next course offering will be the more advanced speculative fiction workshop, Writing the Fantastic and as of today there are still slots left for new students. I plan to spend this Saturday at the Toronto SpecFic Colloquium, listening to the above-mentioned Peter Watts, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Madeline Ashby and other amazing writers talking passionately about writing, reading, and all the things we fans know and love.

Finally, to all of you who sent birthday greetings yesterday, on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere, thank you! I won’t have time to answer you all individually, but I appreciate so much that you are out there wishing me well.

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