Tags: bibliography

Snow White

Genre Chick Interview: Steven Saus

A featured guest in my Year of Steves, Steven Saus is a writer, non-traditional student, nuclear medicine technologist, and fairly snazzy guy. He has a story in the Timeshares anthology out from DAW this week, so I put on my Genre Chick hat and poked him to see if he wouldn’t mind answering a few questions about what he’s been up to.

Alethea Kontis: What’s the theme of this antho?

Steven Saus: Timeshares starts with a simple premise:  Where – no, when – would you go if you could go on vacation anywhen in time?

Like most people, I’ve been exposed to lots of time travel stories.  The 19 stories all imagine the time-vacation agency in slightly different ways, which keeps each story in this anthology fresh.  Some stories are action-packed, some are mysteries, and some center on character and emotion.

AK: What’s your story about?

SS: My story, “Memories of Light and Sound” is about a couple on their honeymoon to New York City in the 1920’s.  Anthony hasn’t told his wife everything about why he chose that time, and the impact it will have on his family.

AK: How did you come to be involved in Timeshares?

SS: Jean Rabe invited me to become involved after hearing me read a rough version of “Kicking the Habit” (since published in the anthology Hungry for Your Love) during a Read & Critique session at GenCon.  I left the meeting afterward, holed up with my laptop and some gin, and pounded out the rough draft in about three hours.

AK: Who are some other folks in the book?

SS: There’s many fine authors in this anthology, like Chris Pearson, Kevin J. Anderson, Donald J. Bingle, Robert Vardeman, Mike Stackpole, and Kelly Swails.

AK: What do you like best about anthologies?

SS: I’ve always liked anthologies because at their best – as in Timeshares and Hungry for Your Love–they let authors explore a single theme from a variety of ways.  It’s fascinating to see the ideas and expectations you have to be twisted in fun and interesting ways.  As a reader, I also like them because I can easily devote the time for a short story in my busy life – but a full novel takes a time commitment I can’t always give.

AK: Do you have a favorite anthology?

SS: One of my recent favorites (not counting ones that I’m in) is the anthology Gamer Fantastic.  From Chris Pearson’s powerful opening story “Escapism” to Don Bingle’s funny “Gaming Circle” and Jim C Hines’ “Mightier Than The Sword” all the way through Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s “Game Testing”, it’s a solid anthology with hardly any weak points. Definitely a must-buy for anyone involved with any type of gaming.  That said, I’m also looking forward to A Girl’s Guide to Guns and Monsters, which I haven’t had a chance to get into yet.

AK: If you could be any superhero, who would you be & why?

SS: I’m not sure he counts as a “superhero”, but I identify most with Destruction from The Sandman.  Except that in real life, I’m much more like Dante from Clerks (or the sequel), or Leonard from The Big Bang Theory.  Go figure.

If anyone knows where I can get a vest like Destruction’s in Brief Lives, I would be much indebted.

(Note: Hungry for Your Love is currently in e-book format from Ravenous Romance;  a print version will be available from St. Martin’s press this Halloween.)

Originally published at AletheaKontis.com. You can comment here or there.

Snow White

Princess Alethea’s Magical Elixir

Princess Alethea’s new reviews are now up at Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show! This month I discuss:

Title: The Girl Who Chased the Moon
Author: Sarah Addison Allen
EAN: 9780553807219

I fell in love with Sarah Addison Allen over a crotchety old woman and an apple tree. The woman was named Evanelle, and if she knocked on your door to hand you a thimble at 2 a.m. it was because you needed it . . . or would need it in the near future. The apple tree’s fruit showed the eater the best moment of his or her life, regardless of whether or not that moment had already come to pass. The book was called Garden Spells, and I was a fan for life… (read more)

Title: Absolute Death
Author: Neil Gaiman
EAN: 9781401224639

I’m overstepping my bounds a bit on this one and toeing into my friend and fellow sideshow freak Spencer Ellsworth’s demesne, but when a Miracle Pictograph is oversized, slipcased, bound with fancy artwork, and put on sale for just shy of a Ben Franklin to hardcore collectors, it’s slightly more than just your average graphic novel… (read more)

Originally published at AletheaKontis.com. You can comment here or there.

Snow White

The 2010 Award Pimpage Post

I’ve always found this brand of year-in-review post — typically done by my favorite authors in the first week of January — far more considerate and helpful than self-serving. I know who my favorite authors are and I’ve read their stories…but gods help me if I can remember when they were all published.

Plus, it’s nice to have all of this stuff compiled in one place. I only hope this post is as helpful to you as it has been for me.

Most of these are available to read for free on the internet — I encourage you to check them out. Just click on the story titles.

And hey…there’s always the Hugo for Best Fan Blog…

Best Short Story:

“A Poor Man’s Roses”Apex Magazine

“The Giant & The Unicorn” — Shimmer, Clockwork Jungle Issue

“The Monster & Mrs. Blake”The Story Station

“The Witch of Black Mountain” Harlan County Horrors (anthology)

“La Reine Rouge” — from my blog, for “Kill Brian Keene Day” (to benefit the Shirley Jackson Awards)

Best Graphic Story:

“Diary of a Mad Scientist Garden Gnome”Thaumatrope month-long Twitter serial, illustrated by J. K. Lee. The link will take you to a Picasa Gallery where you can view each day’s illustrations — the Tweets are below in the comments section. It’s the closest thing you’ll get to an online picture book, really.


“Rabbit in the Moon”Everyday Weirdness


“Teen Angel, Dark”Weird Tales Growing Up Poe issue

“Here Lies an Era” — Apex Magazine

“The Still & The Storm” — Apex Magazine

…and of course, all the various and sundry ones from this blog. The highlights of which are probably “The Friendly Skies” and “Susan Boyle: It Takes One to Know One” Have you got a favorite from 2009?

Best Dramatic Presentation (short form):

Heeheeheehee…okay, maybe not. But I think that video I put together to apply for the job on that barrier island in Australia should at least get a shot, don’t you?


“Foiled” — Alex Magazine


Lora Innes, Ken Scholes, Nick Mamatas, J. F. Lewis, David Macinnis Gill, C. C. Finlay, Diana Rowland, Alfred Martino, Leanna Hieber, Cherie Priest, Sarah Pinborough, Daniel Waters, Peter S. Beagle

Originally published at AletheaKontis.com. You can comment here or there.

Snow White

Genre Chick Interview: Jim C. Hines

A fairy tale girl at heart, I was ridiculously excited about literary jester Jim C. Hines’s new young adult series. The Stepsister Scheme can be best described as Disney princesses crossed with Charlie’s Angels.  The story is a whole new take on what happened to Cinderella and her prince after the wedding. No… what really happened. In this month’s interview, I find out more about Hines and what he’s about. What he’s really about!


Alethea Kontis: What is your favorite fairytale?

Jim C. Hines: I’m going to go with J. K. Rowling.  Not only do we have a single mother who now lives in a castle, but she did it on her own.  No prince or white horse required, just a lot of work and determination that paid off big time in the end.

AK: What inspired the teenage girl point of view?

JCH: All three princesses are in their late teens, but that was mostly a necessity of the story and my chronology rather than a deliberate choice.  The book takes place shortly after Danielle’s (Cinderella’s) wedding, and several years after the tales of Sleeping Beauty and Snow White.  If I was going for full historical accuracy, I probably should have made Danielle more like 15, but I decided to fudge a little for my 21st century readers in order to avoid the creepiness factor.

AK: What was your favorite book as a kid?

JCH: That depends entirely on what day you asked.  I loved the Great Brain series, the Hardy Boys, A Wrinkle in Time, and, of course, I’ve always reserved part of the bookshelves for my Peanuts’ books.  I moved into fantasy with Raymond Feist’s Riftwar series, which I’ve read so many times the books will probably disintegrate the next time we get a breeze through the house.

AK: What’s cool about the cover art of The Stepsister Scheme?

JCH: Is “Everything!” a good response?  I love what Scott Fischer did with the cover art.  It captures the Charlie’s Angels feel we were going for while giving each princess her own distinctive look… it’s great!  Scott said he’d been wanting to experiment with a cover that combined western artwork with a bit of anime influence, and I love the result.  But the absolute coolest thing has to be Talia, the princess on the right.  Because I wrote the book for my daughter, I decided to see if there was any way we could work her into the cover.  I sent Scott a picture of my girl, which he aged a bit and used as the model for Talia.  Coolest thing ever!

AK: What’s your stance on this “one true love” and “happily ever after” business?

JCH: I’ve been happily married for five years, so I have to be careful here.  I do believe in love, and I believe it’s possible to have a generally happy life with someone.  I don’t really buy into the one true love, soul-mate, destined-to-be-together thing, though.  The average romance movie ends when our hero and heroine get together, implying that once you’ve met your soulmate, it’s happily ever after.  Well, it ain’t.  Relationships take work, and the moment you start taking things for granted and assuming everything will be rainbows and roses from here on out, that’s when the roof starts leaking or the kid throws up at 3:00 A.M. or your editor calls with a last-minute deadline.  Honestly, I helped to destroy several relationships when I was younger precisely because I expected me and my one true love to just live happily ever after.

AK: As a Genre Chick, I love Genreville–tell us about your column in Publishers Weekly.

JCH: That was fun.  Rose Fox invited me to be one of her guest bloggers while she was away.  I was a little intimidated at first.  I mean, this is Publishers Weekly!  (Almost as important a name as Ingram!)  Anyway, after stressing about ideas, I eventually relaxed and decided to have fun with it.  I wrote a lighthearted piece called “And the Award Shall be Known as … the Dangerfield,” talking about the fact that humorous and lighthearted novels don’t seem to get much award recognition in science fiction and fantasy and how it’s about time we put a change to that.  The fact that I write lighthearted fantasy had nothing to do with my motivations.  Nope, nothing at all.

AK: Does The Stepsister Scheme tie in at all to your previous Goblin books?

JCH: Not really.  Goblins do make a brief appearance in the book, and the Goblin, Diglet, might be familiar to readers of the Goblin series.  On the other hand, there’s a detail in The Mermaid’s Madness that careful readers will–well, I probably shouldn’t spoil things.

AK: What’s next?

JCH: I turned in book #2 in this series (The Mermaid’s Madness) back in November, and I’m currently working on #3, tentatively titled Red Hood’s Revenge.  I’ve got ideas for at least five of these books, but only the first three are under contract, so we’ll have to see how it goes.  As with all things publishing, the better the sales, the more likely we’ll be able to continue the series.

AK: You say your favorite Muppet is Animal. (Mine’s Gonzo.) Do you bear any personal resemblance to that character in particular?

JCH: Most people would probably say I’ve got more in common with Gonzo than with Animal.  Mostly I like Animal’s straightforward approach to life.  The dude lives in the moment, and he seems to be having fun with life.  When things go wrong, he lets you know, then gets on with things.  And I’ll admit, I do develop more of a resemblance to Animal around deadline time….

AK: If you could be a superhero, or have any superpower, who/what would it be?

JCH: Green Lantern would be pretty cool, just for the sheer range of power.  The ring can do just about anything, depending on your willpower and your imagination.  I think I’ve got a pretty decent imagination, and my family can attest to the willpower (though they might describe it more as stubbornness or sheer bullheadedness.)  If it was completely up to me though, I’d probably go with the whole Jedi thing.  The Force would be great at parties, and how can you turn down your very own lightsaber?

Originally published at AletheaKontis.com. You can comment here or there.

Snow White

Genre Chick Interview: Ann & Jeff Vandermeer

Two for the price of one! This month, Genre Chick Alethea Kontis sits down with dynamic publishing duo Ann and Jeff Vandermeer. Ann is the fiction editor for Weird Tales magazine; her husband Jeff is an award-winning author. Together they often join forces and co-edit some out-of-this-world anthologies. 


Alethea Kontis: What are the biggest challenges of working on these projects as a husband-and-wife team? Who gets the final say? Do you arm wrestle for it?

JEFF: That’s a tough one. I love working with Ann, and I feel we have different strengths and weaknesses, which makes us a great team. I don’t think either of us has final say. If one of us feels very strongly about something, the other will usually defer–or if they feel equally strongly, the deferring may be done by the other party!

ANN: We have a great deal of respect for each other’s talents.  That’s what makes it work so well.  In all the years that we’ve been working together I can count the number of our blow-ups on one hand and still have fingers left over.

Alethea: How do you choose stories for your anthologies?

JEFF: I believe strongly that an anthology should have a core mission statement, and that you should strive to maintain that focus throughout, and then find creative ways to organize the material. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. But a lot of antho editors are more like caretakers–they shepherd the material through the process, but they don’t think about it in a proactive sense. And I believe our alternative approach is in large part why anthos like The New Weird and Steampunk have been so successful.  The challenge there, of course, was to create anthos for general readers that could also be used by academia, and the idea of structure was even more important.

ANN: Each anthology requires something different.  Before we make any decisions (including whether or not to even do a specific anthology) we have a lot of discussion up front.   We bounce ideas off each other to see what makes sense.  And we get a lot of our ideas while out hiking together (seems to clear our heads) so we make sure to always carry paper and pen.

Alethea: How is working with the small press market different from publishing with the Big Six (Jeff), or magazines (Ann)?

JEFF: I don’t personally see much difference, since most of our indie publishers have very good distribution to and communication with the chains, although I would say that Tachyon Publications has been a joy to work with. But, then, Bantam was great on the fake disease guide, too. We try to cut down on the variables associated with publication in either context by having our own procedures in place and being very aggressive in our PR. The thing is, when you edit an anthology it’s like you’re the captain of a ship full of people in the form of stories. You want to get them all safely to their destination. You want the boat to be sea-worthy for their sake. Every publisher, large or small, is going to have quirks, too, so you just try to figure out (1) how does this publisher best communicate (email, IM, phone, etc.) (2) how do their processes differ from the norm and (3) who are the stakeholders at the publisher helping you achieve your goals. The other fact is, some projects are more commercial than others–and some become more commercial. The fake disease guide was rejected by all of the big publishers, was taken on by Night Shade in hardcover, was a huge success, and then was picked up by Bantam.

ANN: There are pros and cons for each. Sometimes you will get more individualized attention with an independent press and usually the larger publishers have more resources at their disposal, but that isn’t always the case.   We’ve had the good fortune to work with a lot of passionate people in both large and small publishing companies.  It’s really the passion for the project that makes the difference.

Alethea: It’s been said that anthologies perform better in the small press market. Have you found this to be true?

JEFF: I don’t think that’s necessarily true, although the numbers on the Steampunk antho in particular are really strong. The antho would have done as well from a large publisher, but the fact is Tachyon had the foresight to come up with the project and ask us to edit it. In general, publishing anthologies is a risk. So many variables come into play. But it’s more of a risk for the publisher and editor at the publishing house than for us, and we try to keep that in mind–keep the publisher’s risk in mind. Because, in general, if an anthology tanks it doesn’t affect my ability to sell a novel, but it might affect a publisher’s ability to buy more anthologies. One thing that is true–an indie press will sometimes need to sell fewer copies to consider a book a success.

ANN: It all depends on the anthology.  In general an independent press may be more willing to take a chance.

Alethea: Describe the New Weird subgenre in 25 words or less.

JEFF: Well, this is more than 25 words, but it’s the definition in the anthology. Although New Weird got great reviews generally, I was irked by some reviewers who claimed the antho did not define New Weird. Well, it did, right in the introduction, with plenty of proof and context:

“New Weird is a type of urban, secondary-world fiction that subverts the romanticized ideas about place found in traditional fantasy, largely by choosing realistic, complex real-world models as the jumping off point for creation of settings that may combine elements of both science fiction and fantasy. New Weird has a visceral, in-the-moment quality that often uses elements of surreal or transgressive horror for its tone, style, and effects– in combination with the stimulus of influence from New Wave writers or their proxies (including also such forebears as Mervyn Peake and the French/English Decadents). New Weird fictions are acutely aware of the modern world, even if in disguise, but not always overtly political.  As part of this awareness of the modern world, New Weird relies for its visionary power on a “surrender to the weird” that isn’t, for example, hermetically sealed in a haunted house on the moors or in a cave in Antarctica. The “surrender” (or “belief”) of the writer can take many forms, some of them even involving the use of postmodern techniques that do not undermine the surface reality of the text.”

ANN: I couldn’t have said it better!

Alethea: The SF world seems to be having a Steampunk Renaissance. Why do you think that is? What’s so cool about steampunk?

JEFF: It’s really the ultimate effect of a steampunk subculture that has been simmering beneath the surface for a long time. Really classic steampunk is about a few things: the rise of the inventor or scientist as hero, the use of retro-technology (think, alternate history: technologies, like airships, that once seemed poised to be dominant), and then the introduction of irony to the idea of scientist as hero, in showing how unquestioning use of technology leads to disaster. But, at base, for more people, in pop culture, it’s almost more a “look” than a definition. A kind of style in a book or movie, often involving airships. Much of the steampunk I read is dealing with tough issues when it comes to technology and its uses. It is true, though, that steampunk does also allow for “comedies of manners” with pseudo-Victorian trappings, which are just meant as fun adventure romps. So perhaps the diversity.

ANN: Technology today typically removes us from the direct connection to our efforts, our work.  The Steampunk culture is all about the DIY experience: making something with your own hands, so to speak.  I think many people find that attractive and that is why its become so popular.

Alethea: What’s the most interesting place you’ve ever visited?

JEFF: The first night in Prague was special–we just walked around with our mouths open, amazed, and I kept thinking, “My whole life I’ve been writing about this place and didn’t know it.” Or deep down the Danube, in Romania, traveling by canoe with outboard motor. Hiking in British Columbia. We’ve been blessed that our editing and writing have taken us so many cool places.

ANN: He’s stolen all of my thunder! But seriously, the first night we spent in Cairns, Australia, where you go out and the stars in the sky are so different and the breeze is different and suddenly through the branches huge fruit bats fly by…I’ll never forget that.  In addition, my first snorkeling trip in the Great Barrier Reef.  Once I got the hang of the snorkel, I was hooked.  I’ve also had some amazing experiences in Israel.  And we have a tendency to find something wonderful in any place we’ve visited.

Alethea: Do either of you know how to sail?

JEFF: I know how to capsize a canoe. When I was at the Clarion Writers Workshop in the 1990s, some of us decided to go out canoeing in the middle of a thunderstorm. It was fine on the way out, but coming back, with the current, we all went overboard and were only saved by one of our number who was an alternate on the Canadian swim team. So, in a word, no. But I have read all of the Patrick O’Brian novels…

ANN: No, but I can water ski!  And I am pretty good in a canoe.

Alethea: With regards to the upcoming Nightshade Books anthology Fast Ships, Black Sails: Do you or do you not Talk Like a Pirate on September 19th?

JEFF: Every day is talk like a pirate day.

ANN: And our cats even have their very own eye patches, but they’d much rather have a parrot!

Alethea: What projects are you both working on next?

JEFF: I’m in the middle of my novel Finch, a noir mystery set in my fantastical setting of Ambergris. Right now, I’m figuring out the blocking on a ten-thousand-word chase scene set amid three hundred bobbing, lashed-together boats. And my Predator tie-in novel comes out from Dark Horse in a month or so.

ANN: I just turned in the International Issue of Weird Tales.  It has stories from writers all over the world including Slovakia, Serbia, Spain, The Philippines, Israel and Belgium.   I am finalizing the PR campaigns for the Fast Ships, Black Sails (Nightshade, Nov 2008) and Best American Fantasy Vol II (prime, Nov 2008).  I also just turned in the Best of Michael Moorcock short story collection (Tachyon, May 2009).  Also upcoming next year, The Leonardo Variations (a charity anthology for Clarion) and Last Drink Bird Head (a charity anthology for literacy).  And let’s not forget Evil Monkey’s Guide to Kosher Imaginary Animals (Tachyon, Nov 2009) just in time for the holidays next year.

Alethea: If you could be any superhero, who would you be and why?

JEFF: I’m so sick of superheroes, I’d probably sign up to be one of the superhero fighters in that comic The Boys. I did like the Batman movie, though.

ANN: I’ve always loved Batman because he’s the only one who is a real person.   All the others have some kind of super power.  He only had his natural born abilities (plus a lot of really cool toys and gadgets, I might add).

Originally published at AletheaKontis.com. You can comment here or there.

Snow White

Genre Chick Interview: Jackie Kessler

It may be Hotter Than Hell but the Dark Side has cookies! This month, join Genre Chick Alethea Kontis as she shares iced tea in the summer heat with sweet and spicy romance author Jackie Kessler. Enjoy!

Alethea Kontis: What exactly are succubi and incubi? What drew you to write about them as opposed to the traditional characters of paranormal romance?

Jackie Kessler: Succubi and incubi are demons of sex. A succubus is a female demon; an incubus is a male demon. But they’re both all about the nookie. Demonic nookie. (Cue Barry White music. Backwards.)

When I started thinking about the HELL books, I knew I wanted to write about a demon, and I wanted it to be a female demon. At the time, I automatically equated that with a succubus. And so, the protagonist would be a demon of lust. Also, I hadn’t intended to write a romance at all. Yes, the romance between Jezebel and Paul wound up being central to the story. And sure, there’s an HEA [Happily Ever After]. But I really didn’t mean for it to be a romance. From the start, I was always interested in the conflict between Good and Evil. (Let’s face it: I love writing about evil. I’m told the Dark Side has cookies.)

AK:  What do you think it is that draws contemporary readers to the “Beauty and the Beast” aspect of paranormal romance?

JK: Many of us grew up reading fairy tales, the ones that begin “Once upon a time” and end with “and they lived happily ever after.” Those are stories about princes and princesses, about monsters and demons, about good and love triumphing over adversity and evil. We want the hero and heroine to succeed — it’s very cathartic. And they usually have great hair. We love to root for people who have great hair.

But frankly, it’s when the monsters are the heroes that I start getting excited. Through monsters, we get to examine our own humanity. And the bad boys are just so much freaking cooler than the good boys.

AK:  You’ve done your fair share of interviews… what was the best question you’ve ever asked, and who answered it?

JK: Ha! Actually, it’s not me doing the asking. It’s all Jezebel. (And no, I’m not going all schizophrenic on you, I promise.) Jezzie interviews the characters of other authors, and those interviews get posted on my Web site in the Cat and Muse section. She tends to ask the same questions, although sometimes they’re tailored for specific guests. But her favorite question to ask is “If you were evil for a day, and you were granted spiffy evil powers, what would they be, and why?” There have been tons of terrific answers, including Jennifer Estep’s character Bella (star of Jinx) mentioning something about making people with curly hair have to live in 90% humidity.

But recently, Jezebel interviewed Daunuan, who stars in my latest book, Hotter Than Hell, and she asked him, “If you were good for a day, what would you do?” And he answered, “Probably slit my wrists out of boredom.” Hee hee hee…

AK:  Your short story “Red” appeared in the April 2007 issue of Realms of Fantasy — do you still write short stories?

JK: Not as much as I’d like. I do have a short story coming out in Elaine Cunningham’s upcoming anthology called Lilith Unbound (Popcorn Press). That story is “When Hell Comes Calling,” and it’s the tale of how Lillith (in this antho, spelled “Lilith” for consistency’s sake) went from being the First Woman to being the first mortal demon. I had a lot of fun with this one. And I also have an erotic novella that will appear in Avon’s A Red Hot Valentine’s Day, in January 2009. “Hell Is Where The Heart Is” shows us how Daun and Jezzie first met. Nookie ensues. (And ensues. Dang, these demons have a lot of stamina…)

AK: Which of the Seven Deadly Sins gives you the most trouble?

JK: Me? I’m innocent, I tell you. Innocent. Everything you’ve heard about me is a lie. A vicious lie. Seriously. Like the time with the trampoline and the honey? Not me. Honest. (But Lust is a bitch to write about.)

AK:  How’s your luck?

JK: Oh, you know, good and bad…

AK:  You do an amazing amount of self-promotion for your books… what swag do you think gets you the most bang for your buck?

JK: Hmm. I’d say probably the pens. Maybe the post-it notepads. The stressball hearts are fun, and so are the mirrors, but the pens and notepads are practical swag items. The one item that was more cool in name than in reality was the phone thong. (No, really.)

AK: What was/is your favorite comic book?

JK: The Sandman by Neil Gaiman. Totally. Close runner up: Grendel by Matt Wagner. And then there’s the Hush arc in Batman. And the Batman/Grendel miniseries. And the Dark Phoenix saga in The Uncanny X-Men. And The Death of Captain Marvel. And Preacher by Garth Ennis. And Hellblazer. And…

Sorry, what was the question?

AK: Do the sexy characters in your books happen to wear a lot of spandex?

JK: In Black & White (Bantam Spectra, summer 2009), they sure do. My co-author Caitlin Kittredge and I called the project “Code-Name: Spandex” when we were writing it. Hee.

But in the Hell series? More sequins than spandex. And leather. And lingerie. And birthday suits. Lots of those.

AK:  If you could be any superhero, who would you be and why?

JK: Well, Black & White, my character *is* a superhero. She works with shadows. And she’s sorta crazy. But me? Hmm. Oh, I know: I’d have the power of height! I’d finally be taller than five feet! Or I’d shrink everyone else down. Yeah! I’d be the Heightmeister! (Do I get my own theme song?)

Originally published at AletheaKontis.com. You can comment here or there.

Snow White

Genre Chick Interview: Edmund Schubert

In October of 2005, Orson Scott Card launched Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show—an online magazine featuring spectacular science fiction and fantasy tales, gorgeous professional artwork, and an original story from Card’s Ender universe in every issue. Less than a year later, he named SF bad man Edmund Schubert editor of the now-quarterly ‘zine. A new anthology compiles a selection of fantastic stories from IGMS (written by Tim Pratt, David Lubar, David Farber, among others), as well as all of the scenes from the Enderverse.

I honestly don’t know what else to say. I’ve been waiting for an interview like this for four years. Enjoy!


Alethea Kontis: How did you meet Orson Scott Card?

Edmund Schubert: In the summer of 2004 we were both in Antarctica, at McMurdo Station. Orson had been invited down by the American commander to do a reading and signing, and I happened to be in the area researching the mating habits of snowflakes for a BBC documentary. At dinner that first night, it turned out we both had a taste for fire-roasted penguin. But there was only one left in the station’s larder so the commander made us arm-wrestle for it.

AK: How did you get the gig as IGMS editor?

ES: I won the penguin arm-wrestling contest. Orson really wanted that last penguin pretty badly, so he said, “How about I make you the most powerful man in the world and hire you to edit my online magazine?” I was tempted. Being an editor had been a lifelong dream of mine for almost four years. When I found out just how extensive the god-like powers of being an editor were, I knew that penguin was as good as his.

AK: What are the best and most challenging parts of your job?

ES: At first, the biggest challenge was learning to read. But once I realized I didn’t have to know how to read in order to be an editor, I just settled in and had fun with it. At this point I‘d say the most challenging thing is figuring out what to do with all the money. You wouldn’t believe how much money editors make, especially in the field of short fiction. When my wife and I had to build a new room over the garage to hold all the money, I thought I was going to go crazy. It was terribly inconvenient.

The best part of the job? I’d have to say doing interviews like this. The opportunity to open up and share my innermost thoughts without having to worry about being judged is exactly what my therapist says I need.

AK: How does IGMS work?

ES: You buy it, you read it, you love it. Pretty basic, really. Probably you should start by logging onto the Web site. It also has pretty pictures (no extra charge).

AK: How do you choose the stories for the magazine?

ES: It starts with my cat, Patches. We call him Mr. Patches now because people always assume that cats are female and he was getting a little gender-confused, showing up in evening gowns and that sort of thing. The other cats were starting to make fun of him and when the mice started mocking him too, I knew we had to take action. But to get back to the point, Mr. Patches is in charge of the first round of decision making. I print out all of the manuscripts, fling them across the floor, and then he plops down in the pile and starts gnawing on them. At first I thought it was random, but it turns out he was chewing up the bad ones at a prodigious rate, so I put him on the payroll.

The second round of reading is done by my children, Roweena and Uganda, who are 164 and 99 (we started counting in months when they were born and it was so cute that we just couldn’t bring ourselves to stop). Anyway, they take the rest of the stories to school and let their friends pick out their favorites. This tends to slow down the process in the summer months, but we live in an imperfect world and have to make the best of what we’ve got. It’s either that or I to learn how to read, and nobody wants that.

AK: What are the pros and cons of having an online magazine?

ES: The pros are the people who write for the magazine. There is an organization called the SFWA, which sets certain minimum levels of pay and distribution to qualify as a professional magazine, and IGMS meets those criteria, so the writers are considered pros.

The cons are the weekend-long meetings that take place in cities across America where people go to meet their favorite writers, buy editors drinks at the bar (my favorite part), play games, and dress up in costumes. I think the official term is “conventions,” but somewhere along the line somebody decided it was too big a word so they shortened it down to “cons.”

By the way, this was an odd, one-off kind of question. What’s up with that?

AK: How were the stories chosen for the print anthology?

ES: At first I was going to try to balance things out; you know, a certain number from each issue, a certain number of SF stories and a certain number of fantasy stories. But then I got this box in the mail. All it contained was a freshly roasted penguin and the business card of one of the authors from issue four. Once word got around that he was going to have two stories in the anthology (you’re welcome, Mr. Eric James Stone), suddenly the penguins started coming out of the woodwork. At that point it simply became a question of who could season the penguin the best, who used the most creativity on concocting penguin-based meals (who knew penguin ala mode was best with rum-raisin ice cream?), and who simply could get their hands on the most penguins (high tally was 16, by James Maxey, who would have never made the anthology otherwise).

AK: Tell us about Side Show Freaks.

ES: Wow, talk about a loaded question. I think I’m going to go for the unexpected and reply with a straight answer. Side Show Freaks is my blog. Usually I write about things related to either IGMS or writing in general, but once in a while I’ll also delve into personal things. For instance, I rode the length of the Sky Line Drive and part of the Blue Ridge Parkway on my bicycle last summer and posted a few photos from the trip.

I think my favorite thing on Side Show Freaks is running essays from the authors in each new issue of the magazine. I invite them to write about the creation of their stories (much the way I did in the IGMS anthology). I have always been fascinated by the stories behind the stories. Plus, it was a good way to trick the authors into writing extra words for me with out having to pay them extra money get extra exposure for these valued authors and their brilliant stories.

AK: Will this be a yearly event?

ES: I try to post to Side Show Freaks about twice a week. No one would read a blog that only had one post each year. Again, an odd, one-off kind of question. Where do you come up with these?

AK: There are certain authors you’ve published more than once or twice…do you have a “stable”?

ES: Wow, that’s really sweet. It’s been a long time since anyone called me “stable”–or even used that word in a sentence that had anything to do with me…

AK: If you could be any superhero, who would it be?

ES: Penguin Man, Penguin Man,
Does whatever a penguin can
Swims in seas, full of ice
Catches fish, just like Japanese fishing trawlers chasing whales in clear violation of international law but hiding behind the flimsy veneer of “science”
Watch out

Here comes the Penguin Man.

Originally published at AletheaKontis.com. You can comment here or there.

Snow White

Genre Chick Interview: Shane Berryhill

Ironman, Batman, Hellboy, Hulk–it’s certainly a splendid summer of superheroes at the cinema! Are your young adult readers hungry for more? Check out Chance Fortune and the Outlaws (The Adventures of Chance Fortune)
–a superhero cut from a slightly different cloth. Join me as I infiltrate the lair of creator Shane Berryhill to find out more about what makes evil genius tick.


Alethea Kontis: What was your favorite book(s) as a kid?

Shane Berryhill: The first books I remember going absolutely giant-albino-four-armed-ape over were Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Mars novellas. When I was in junior high, I even faked being sick to stay home from school so that I could finish The Gods of Mars. Now, kids fake being sick to stay home from school for a lot of reasons, but I doubt finishing a book ranks high on the list!

AK: What was your best subject in school?

SB: Illustration. Unfortunately it wasn’t part of the official curriculum. <grins>

AK: How did you get started writing?

SB: For a would-be writer, sometimes the best book you can read is a bad one. Not long after the turn of the millennium, I was reading a novel–some bestseller by a big name author–that was pure schlock.  I finished it, certain that I could do better. I decided to try. I submitted several short stories to various sci-fi magazines, but didn’t get so much as a nibble. And rightly so. My first efforts where atrocious. But being bull-headed as I am, I didn’t let that deter me. I began studying the writing craft and honing my skills. Before long, my rejection letters were coming back with positive comments. But rejection letters they still were, admittedly. I saw that, if I was going meet my personal goal of success as a writer, my first step would be to write a novel. I set about creating a book that would excite that same 12-year-old who was so ga-ga over Burroughs. Thus was born Chance Fortune.

AK:  What’s next for you?

SB: Other than total and absolute world domination? Book two of The Adventures of Chance Fortune series, Chance Fortune in the Shadow Zone, is scheduled to release in hardcover this fall. My manager just finalized a development deal with Kickstart Productions, part of the team behind Angelina Jolie’s upcoming flick, Wanted. They’ll be shopping around my screenplay in hopes to have it optioned by a major studio. As I write this, my agent is trying to find a publisher for my middle-grade novel of Christmas fantasy-noir, The Long Silent Night. Last but not least, I’m midway through the first draft of an adult novel about a mentally and physically diseased serial killer I’ve tentatively titled Hollow.

AK: If you could have any superpowers, what would they be?

SB: The power to make Chuck Norris cry. But, as we all know, that’s impossible no matter how abundant your superpowers are. He created the universe with a spinning back-kick, after all!

AK: Describe your perfect fortress of solitude.

SB: Kryptonian sunstone structures aside, in the literal sense…
For work: My home office, the shade down, the door shut.
For relaxation: The Mud Pie–a bohemian, yet unpretentious coffee shop in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where I’m able to lose myself in a book while eating my favorite meal and drinking my favorite cup of java.
For play: Once upon a time not so long ago, a fabled hole-in-the-wall bar known as The Stone Lion existed here in Chattanooga. Despite its small size and inherent filthiness–or because of it–there truly was something magical about the place. It served as a microcosm of utopia in a city normally divided by race, religion, and economic status. I can’t tell you how many times while saddled up to a Stone Lion high-top, I watched suit-clad corporate attorneys and tattooed punk rockers toast one another in genuine friendship, if only for that hour. It was a glorious thing to behold, and to be a part of. But alas, The Stone Lion is no more. Nothing so markedly bookended my 20s as walking to work one day after The Stone Lion was closed and seeing the large statue that was its namesake tipped over onto its side. It truly was a graphic representation of the end of an era in both the city’s life and my own.

Originally published at AletheaKontis.com. You can comment here or there.

Snow White

Genre Chick Interview: Sarah Addison Allen

Sarah Addison Allen’s debut novel Garden Spells was one of my all-time favorte books. I was pleased to find that her sophomore effort, The Sugar Queen, was equally delicious and her characters just as memorable as they were colorful.

There’s Josey, the rich girl with a closet full of romance novels, a secret cache of sweets, and a squatter-cum-fairy-godmother named Della Lee. Then there’s Chloe, whose passion can boil water and who is haunted by books that follow her around and present themselves whenever she needs them the most… however annoying. It’s the best kind of story: full of love, laughter, and a little bit of magic.

Which, of course, makes our interview with Sarah the best kind of interview.


Alethea Kontis: Genre labelers would probably pin your books as “magical realism.” Do you have any favorites in this genre?

Sarah Addison Allen: My favorites in this genre continue to be the first I ever read, in college. I think the newness, the way this literary device opened a whole new world for me when I discovered it, made these titles unforgettable, like first loves: The Passion by Jeanette Winterson, I Am One of You Forever by Fred Chapppell, Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, and A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters by Julian Barnes

AK: In honor of Children’s Book Week (May 12-18), what was your favorite book as a child?

SAA: I loved picture books as a child. Some of my favorites were Millicent’s Ghost (“Great Aunt Agatha!”), The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes (“Come to the Palace tomorrow afternoon, for that is Easter Eve, and you shall be my fifth Easter Bunny.”), and The Funny Little Woman (“Tee-he-he-he.”)

AK: In Garden Spells, eating an apple from the apple tree showed you the most wonderful moment of your life. What has been the most wonderful moment of your life so far?

SAA: I’ve honestly never thought in terms of best and worst moments. For me, the beauty of life is found in the bigger picture, the cumulative power of experience. It’s like Claire burying the apples from her tree.  She wants to keep people from eating them so they won’t see the biggest event in their life and lose sight of the fact that every day is an event, that every day should be lived to its fullest.

AK: Do you like apples? Crave sweets at all?

SAA: I love apples! Covered in caramel, preferably. I have a ferocious sweet tooth. My upcoming book is even titled The Sugar Queen.

AK:  If you had a knack that developed into a magical power, what would it be? Conversely, what do you *wish* it would be?

SAA: I have a knack for attracting stray cats. Could that be a magical power? I could be Cat Woman. No, wait, that one’s already taken…

If I could wish for a magical power, I would wish for the ability to visit characters in books. To actually live in books for a while, instead of through them.

AK:  Does any sort of magic run in your family?

SAA: Hmm, we all seem to have an irresistible urge to offer food to anyone who visits. Walk through our doors and a plate will appear in your hands, like magic.

AK: Do you have any sisters?

SAA: I have one sister named Sydney, the name of one of the sisters in Garden Spells.  The fictional Sydney doesn’t bear any resemblance to the real one–I’ve just always loved the name. That was a big point of contention when we were kids. I thought Sydney got the better name… and when I was five years old, this necessarily meant our parents loved her more.

AK: You have the most amazingly unique characters–Evanelle in particular stood out for many of us. Are any of your characters (Evanelle in particular) based on anyone you know?

SAA: Evanelle is based on a real woman with the same name, which she pronounced EVEN-NELL. She was an elderly friend of my great-aunt’s, and she would drop by out of the blue with something she’d cooked or something she’d picked from her garden. She was a gift-giving woman, like generosity was in her genes.

AK: Garden Spells deals with the very serious issue of spousal abuse. How did you do research for Sydney? Was writing her character difficult?

SAA: For Sydney, I tapped into very base fears. The lack of physical safety is a base fear. Vulnerability is a base fear.  It took so much courage for Sydney to leave her abusive situation. I love all my characters in Garden Spells, and they all deserved their happy endings. But Sydney didn’t just deserve hers. She earned it.

AK: Will all your books be set in North Carolina?

SAA: The next couple, at least. There are magical aspects to the South I’ve yet to explore–superstitions, Moonpies, the religious experience that is North Carolina barbeque…

Originally published at AletheaKontis.com. You can comment here or there.