Tomorrow 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.
I 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.
photo by Kelly Robson
Today I am shaving 260 words from one of the squid stories*, so I can send it to a market with a firm 7.5K word limit. I can tell I’ve been through the story before. There’s not much to trim. It’s tempting to simply change the word count at the top of the page and assume they don’t really care about that extra half page or so.
But that would be errant smart-assery, not to mention unprofessional. Even if I weren’t generally rule-abiding, I know it makes me nuts when my students blithely ignore my guidelines. So–a sentence here, an adjective there. Nip, tuck, smooth.
Next weekend I am one of a bunch of Tor authors heading off to the New York Comicon, so I’ll continue working on these little bits and bobs for awhile yet. I’ll shoot a few stories off to market, push paper on a grant application, comb through the files looking for reprint opportunities, that kind of thing.
But this Saturday is my (so far) favorite Toronto event, Nuit Blanche Last year we made our way through the throngs to Nathan Phillips Square, and back, and saw many awesome things. Then we were home, in bed and exhausted, just as the party was properly starting.
This year we are practically at City Hall the minute we step out our front door. So I hope to see even more incredible sights and performances before thronging home to collapse at some ludicrous hour like ten.
How about all of you–what’s on the boards for October?
“Five Good Things about Meghan Sheedy,” in Strange Horizons, and “The Town on Blighted Sea.” (The latter is also in The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Fourth Annual Collection)
“The Sweet Spot,” in Lightspeed and Imaginarium 2013: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing.
“Time of the Snake,” in Fast Forward 1: Future Fiction from the Cutting Edge.
My story “Snow Angels” is now out in Fractured: Tales of the Canadian Post-Apocalypse, edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and featuring stories by (among others) Claude Lalumiere, A.C. Wise, and Michael Matheson. The full Table of Contents is here; I looked for reviews, but haven’t found any yet.
“Snow Angels” may be the first story I wrote after I moved East. I had imagined the apocalypse as seen from British Columbia many times, perhaps most notably in stories like “Wild Things,” and as I accommodated to being here in Toronto I made a real effort to imagine something less Pacific Raincoast, more urban. As a result, this story may have more car per column inch than anything I’ve ever written.
I also wanted to play with the image of Canada and Canadians as quiet, low-key, even boring, while also steering clear of some of the standard end of the world hits–zombie infestation, atomic war, global warming. So the apocalypse in “Snow Angels” creeps in like an unrelenting fall of snow: cold, stealthy. A few flakes at first. Then, eventually it’s a silent, windless blizzard, a creeping not-quite-death that covers the world, a chilly colorless smothering blanket.
Here’s the beginning:
Lindy was elbow-deep in window glass when the tech started giving her hell about her Winkles.
“You haven’t been dusting.” He ran a rag over their faces. They were on a stretcher beside Lindy’s varnishing table: a boy, a girl, a something. Not kin, from their looks: the girl had Southeast Asian features and the boy was a mixed-race cherub with honey curls. “This one’s got cobwebs. You gotta take better care.”
“Who’s taking care of me?” Lindy had been fusing scavenged windshield shards, filtering out the surviving smartcrystals and printing a self-charging pane which drew power from the weak northern sun beyond her window.
“Red here’s got an elevated heart rate.” The tech meant the devil child, the one in the cheap Halloween costume.
In our last exciting episode, the kittens continued to be incredibly adorable, while Caitlin Sweet tagged me and Kelly in the Writer Process Blog Tour. She’s posted her answers to the questions in that meme here.
What Am I Working On?
I’m currently waiting for other people to get back to me on a few things, so in the meantime I’ve been writing short stories, putting together grant proposals, and looking over old projects. I wrote the first chapter of a mystery novel to see if I liked the voice and the direction I was considering. This week I reread a horror novel I drafted in about 2011, but haven’t yet rewritten. There are a couple anthologies I’d like to submit stories to, but I’m not happy with any of the ideas I’ve had for them.
(Yet, she said hopefully.)
In other words, I’m sort of snuffling around to see what grabs my imagination hardest. This is less fun than it probably sounds.
How Does My Work Differ From Others In Its Genre?
Early in my career a writer friend praised me for, essentially, having a wild imagination. Now, whenever I’m stuck, that’s where I try to push things. I’m not saying my work is more imaginative than anyone else’s–that would be insanely egotistical and untrue–but lately I’ve been getting praise from reviewers about the worldbuilding in Child of a Hidden Sea. I see the two things as being related: the positive reinforcement for some crazy-ass thing I wrote fifteen years ago and the invention of a world with over two hundred island nations, each with its own microclimate, magical resources and system of government.
By that token it could mean that imagining stuff means, for me, going out of my way to make it horrifically over-complicated.
Why Do I Write What I Do?
The only thing I don’t write much of is straight-up literary fiction, so the answer to this is: because I’m greedy! I want my mysteries, my horror SF, my seafaring adventure crime procedurals, my magical toxic spill sexfests, my thinly veiled Vietnam War stories. I write because I feel driven to write, unable to stop.
And I write all sorts of things because that’s part of what makes it fun.
How Does My Writing Process Work?
I write drafts longhand, except when I type them directly into the computer or dictate them into a note on my phone. From there they go straight into a properly formatted manuscript document on a simple word processor–no Scrivener for me!–and I rewrite them from beginning to end. Then I rewrite them again. And again. And, OMG, again. And then I get someone to read it and I rewrite it again. And again. And again…
I often do over twenty passes on a single project. Sometimes I reach a point where I’m convinced it’s irrevocably broken, but I’ve invested too much time to quit. (Sometimes it’s irrevocably broken.) Other times, there’s a moment where the clouds part, and I see a fine thing shimmering just beyond my grasp, and I run after it like a fiend. Only, you know, from a seated position, in a coffee shop.
Eventually I find myself desperate to write something else, or making it worse rather than better, or the deadline comes, and so I send it off to market.
Tag tag tag! I tag Jessica Wynne Reisman and Gemma Files.