Posts Tagged ‘Nnedi Okorafor’

I’m incredibly please to announce my Australian creature feature story “Above the Peppermint Trail” has been sold to Fox Spirit Books for their forthcoming anthology, Pacific Monsters.

The Fox Spirit Books of Monsters series, include several other anthologies already: African Monsters, European Monsters and Asian Monsters.  They’ve included stories from some of the best in speculative fiction, including:  Ken Liu, Nnedi Okorafor, Adrian Tchiakovski, Aliette De Boddard, Nerine Dorman, Sarah Lotz, Xia Jia, Usman Tanvir Malik, Isabel Yap, Eve Shi, and Jonathan Grimwood, to name a few.

The anthologies are coffee table style books which include a ton of fantastic artwork by a number of authors.

Check out this panorama of the three previous FS Book of Monsters anthology covers by the fantastic Daniele Serra:

Monsters-Bookmark-V2-S1-1024x360

Fox Spirit have just released the Table of Contents for the anthology:

  • Tina Makereti: ‘Monster’
  • AJ Fitzwater: ‘From the Womb of the Land, Our Bones Entwined’
  • Rue Karney: ‘The Hand Walker’
  • Michael Grey: ‘Grind’
  • Octavia Cade and Dave Johnson (art) : ‘Dinornis’
  • Raymond Gates: ‘The Legend of Georgie’
  • Jeremy Szal: ‘The Weight of Silence’
  • Simon Dewar: ‘Above the Peppermint Trail’
  • Iona Winter: ‘Ink’
  • Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada: ‘All My Relations’
  • Tihema Baker: ‘Children of the Mist’
  • Kirstie Olley: ‘Mudgerwokee’
  • Michael Lujan Bevacqua and Dave Johnson (art) : ‘I Sindålu’
  • AC Buchanan: ‘Into the Sickly Light’

The book will have illustrations by Laya Rose, Lahela Schoessler, Kieran Walsh and Eugene Smith.

Check out othe Fox Spirit titles on their website:

cropped-IMG_0705.png

 

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Hey everyone.  One of today’s WiHM7 interviews is with Dr. Angela Slatter.  Angela is a British Fantasy Award and World Fantasy Award winning author; a Dr of Creative Writing; an incredibly kind and generous person who has been especially welcoming of n00bs like myself, ever since I stumbled into the world of writing, editing and genre fiction. Probably one my ginuwine favourite interwebz people, although legend has it she also exists on the corporeal plane… the stupendously talented Angela Slatter:

Dr-Angela-Slatter

A. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

AS: I’ve always been a voracious reader and I’ve always scribbled, but I only made the decision to start writing seriously about twelve years ago. I didn’t want to get to the end of my life and think “Jeeez, I wish I’d given that a go.” So I threw in a high-paying job in Sydney, moved back to Queensland and started learning the writing craft from scratch. I did a Grad Dip in Creative Writing and was lucky it was a good practical program, then started an MA and produced a collection of rewritten fairy tales, all of which were published before I submitted my finished project for marking − my first sale was to Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet and the second was to Shimmer. I started a PhD, which I eventually finished, and have been consistently publishing since 2006. I’ve had six short story collections published (two with Lisa L. Hannett), there’s a seventh coming out in October 2016, and last year I signed a three-book deal with Jo Fletcher Books for an urban fantasy series − the first book, Vigil, comes out in July 2016.

Q. What draws you to horror generally, and was there a defining moment where you something mad you think “Fuck it, I’m writing a horror story!”?  

AS: I think it probably crept up on me … I read a lot of horror as a teen, a mix of Richard Laymon, Shaun Hutson, Clive Barker, and anthologies edited by Stephen Jones which brought together the likes of Kim Newman, Steve Rasnic Tem, et al. I sought out female horror writers like Tanith Lee, Flannery O’Connor, Marghanita Laski, Barbara Baynton, Mary Shelley, because I often found them more subtle and more chilling (not all the time). One of the first stories I remember writing was about a woman obsessed with books who killed someone in order to get a book that she’d been denied. Probably my first dark detour! Writing for me has been a lot of trying out different genres and styles, as well as reading a lot before I found my own voice.

When I write a fairy tale influenced piece, I’m always drawing on the old horror of the original tales. When I write a modern horror story, I’m still drawing on some inflections of horrific elements in old fairy and folk tales. I think the horror stories that I’ve written that creep me out the most are “Finnegan’s Field”, “Winter Children” and “Cuckoo” … I think they all cut very close to the bone of women’s lives.

Q. What is your favourite horror story and what about it specifically rustled your jimmies? 

AS: I’m not precisely sure what ‘jimmies’ are … if you mean scared the bejesus outta me, then there have been a few for different reasons:

I’ve said a lot of times that Marghanita Laski’s “The Tower” was the first horror story I read that I just adored coz it’s so atmospheric and filled with dread. Then there’s Barbara Baynton’s “The Chosen Vessel”, which I realise I read much earlier than the Laski, when we lived out at Longreach − I was still in primary school and the story is about the murder of an isolated woman, the wife of a drover and her child left on a property while her husband goes off shearing … I think because the story echoed the landscape I was living in it was extra disturbing. Then there’s anything by M.R. James. but particularly “Oh, Whistle, And I’ll Come To You, My Lad”. There’s Saki’s “Gabriel Ernest” and “Sredni Vashtar”. The “Wendigo’s Child” by Thomas F. Montelone gave me nightmares as a kid.

What have you written? And what is your personal favourite of your own work?

AS: Seven short story collections, two novellas, one novel, and over 150 short stories. All are listed here http://www.angelaslatter.com/publications/, but the ones that are of most interest:

  1. Sourdough and Other Stories (Tartarus Press, 2010) − shortlisted for the World Fantasy Award and Aurealis Award for Best Collection
  2. The Girl with No Hands and Other Tales (Ticonderoga Publications, 2010) − won the Aurealis Award for Best Collection
  3. Midnight and Moonshine (with Lisa L. Hannett; Ticonderoga Publications 2012) − shortlisted for the Aurealis Award for Best Collection
  4. The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings (Tartarus Press, 2014) − won the World Fantasy Award for Best Collection, shortlised for the Aurealis Award for Best Collection.
  5. Black-Winged Angels (Ticonderoga Publications, 2014) − shortlisted for the Aurealis Awards for Best Collection.
  6. The Female Factory (with Lisa L. Hannett; Twelfth Planet Press 2014) − won the Aurealis Award for Best Collection.
  7. Of Sorrow and Such (Tor.com novella series, 2015).
  8. Ripper (novella in Stephen Jones’ Horrorology: The Lexicon of Fear, Jo Fletcher Books 2015)
  9. A Feast of Sorrows: Stories isn’t out yet but will be out in October 2016 via Prime Books in the US, which will be my first collection specifically released in the US. It’s mostly a reprint collection, with two new novellas in it.
  10. Vigil: Book 1 of the Verity Fassbinder Series, out in July 2016, from Jo Fletcher Books in the UK and Hachette in Australia.

General points of interest:

  1. I’m the first Australian to win a British Fantasy Award (for “The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter” in Stephen Jones’ A Book of Horrors, Jo Fletcher Books).
  2. In 2014, I had three collections out and in the 2015 Aurealis Awards all three were shortlisted in Best Collection − Lisa and I won with The Female Factory.
  3. In the 2015 Aurealis Awards Shortlists, I had two entries in Best Fantasy Short Story (won with “St Dymphna’s School for Poison Girls), and one in the Best Horror Short Story (which I won with “Home and Hearth”).
  4. The Female Factory got an Honourable Mention in the Norma K. Hemming Awards.

Also: I cannot pick a favourite child. Don’t Sophie’s Choice me, dude.

Q. What are you working on at the minute?

AS: At the moment I am being squeezed mercilessly by March deadlines. I’m editing the last novella (Darker Angels) to go into the Prime collection A Feast of Sorrows: Stories (mostly reprints but with two new 20k novellas); I’m finishing the novel Corpselight, which is the sequel to Vigil; I’m working on a weird noir story for Joe Pulver, called “Dahlia Blues”; I’ve just agreed to write something else for someone else; I’ve got about four secret anthology projects that I’ve got to write stories for … and there’s a novella called The Briar Book of the Dead that either needs editing or turning into a novel … and when I finish Corpselight, I have to start writing Restoration, which is the final Verity book in the trilogy … then I have to start looking for a new three-book deal! AND I’m also doing a book of film criticism for Neil Snowdon and Electric Dreamhouse Press (an imprint of PS Publishing) this year focusing on the Karnstein Trilogy of films made by Hammer Horror.

Q. You do the odd spell of freelance editing and you certainly have the talented and skill to go down that path if you ever felt like it. Do you ever see yourself editing an anthology or other forms as a career or creative choice? 

AS: Every so often I think “Yeah, I could edit a really interesting fairy tale, mosaic world anthology” … then I go and have a lie down until the feeling passes, because I remember precisely what’s involved. Not just the sourcing stories (managing whinging from writers you didn’t contact or whose stories you didn’t accept), gladhanding and ego-massaging the writers whose stories you need to edit, dealing with contracts, printing, finding a publishing house you can rely on, getting typesetting done, commissioning cover art that doesn’t just look like a stock photo with bad font over the top, then ensuring everyone’s paid … then marketing the damned book, finding reviewers, eventually (if you’re lucky) then having to dole out royalties to authors … and all that time and stress is time and stress I could be usefully applying to my own work. So if I ever say “I’m editing an anthology” you’ll know I’ve been kidnapped and am trying to give a signal or I’ve gone mad.

Similarly, occasionally I think about writing a film script: “Hey, 90 pages, how hard could it be?” It’s fucking hard!!! That’s an art form all on its own and I am not a master of it. A mate of mine did something like four scripts (commissioned) in two months − hats off to him, the mad sod, but he did it, and he did it because it’s his field and he’s an expert at it. So, I’ll stick to what I know!

Q. Is there any quality or skill etc that makes a good horror editor, specifically? s

  • Knowledge of grammar, spelling and sentence structure. The general skills any good editor in any genre should have as well as contacts in the industry rather than just a whim/fancy to be an editor.
  • The ability to help the writer tease out the story’s best shape, NOT t he desire to make the story into the one they would have written if they’d had a chance.
  • Open-mindedness about the various forms horror can come in, so it’s not all just “Saw”, but rather things that are more subtle, a mix of light and dark, not just body horror.

Q. Who is your favourite woman writer?

AS:  Argh! How can you choose? Why would you ask me that? Why?

I love the particular subtlety a lot of female horror writers bring to their work, even though it’s that very subtlety that often causes them to be dismissed as horror writers. “There’s not one chainsaw, NOT ONE in this work, how can you call her a horror writer??” But the more subtle and insidious the tales are, the more I like them. So, I will make a list that cannot possibly be complete and some will say “They ain’t horror authors”, to which I reply “You ain’t reading them right.” Tanith Lee, Thana Niveau, Alison Littlewood, Nalo Hopkinson, Tananarive Due, Lisa L. Hannett, Nnedi Okorafor Kirstyn McDermott, Kaaron Warren, Kelly Link, Gemma Files, Damien Angelica Walters, Lisa Tuttle, Caitlín R. Kiernan,Shirley Jackson, Sarah Langan, Molly Tanzer, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Lynda Rucker, K. Tempest Bradford, Maura McHugh, Margo Lanagan, Anna Tambour, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro …

All are women who’ll lead you in quite gently then unsettle you and then slap you in the face with some terrible thing that isn’t simply about body horror, but the actual destruction of a soul, of happiness, of love. Examples? Nalo Hopkinson’s “Greedy Choke Puppy”, Lisa Hannett’s “Forever, Miss Tapekwa County”, Tanith Lee’s “La Dame”, Damien Angelica Walters’ “Sing Me Your Scars”. And I must add Kelly Robson’s “The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill” as I just read it the other day and it blew me away − extremely visceral, haunting body horror very skilfully done.

Q. What book/s are you reading at present and what is in your TBR pile?

AS: The TBR pile is presenting a danger to all and sundry, but these are the ones I’ll pick out: Will Lawson’s When Cobb & Co Was King, the Audrey Niffenegger anthology Ghostly, Mary Norris’ Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen, Delia Sherman’s The Porcelain Dove, C.S.E. Cooney’s  Bone Swans, and I’m re-reading John Connolly’s Nocturnes collection as well as Dark Hollow.

Q. What challenges have you encountered that are unique to being a woman in the horror genre, or can you describe some of the challenges have you faced that are complicated by your gender?

AS: I’ve been relatively lucky, but the main ones are either dismissal on the grounds of having a lack of white penis (or indeed any penis at all) − “She can’t write horror for she has no wang!” − or reviews that smack of hurt male feels − “She’s written about awful men doing awful things to women! She must hate all men! Also: waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!”

Both of these things are childish and tiring.

Q. Why is Women in Horror month important? 

AS: I admit to feeling conflicted about it. It annoys me that we need it, like some kind of remedial training to remind certain readers we’re here. It feels a bit like we’re Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny: mythical creatures that people remember once a year. Remember folks: a female horror author isn’t just for Christmas, she’ll scare the crap out of you all year round.

But on the other hand I’m happy to see my fellow female horror writers highlighted and for readers to get to know work they might not naturally seek out.

Q. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

  • Keep writing.
  • Learn your craft and never ever think you know it all.
  • Develop a thick skin, but realise that story criticism is aimed at making the story better, not at making you feel bad about yourself.
  • It’s better to have someone find problems with a story before you send it out into the world.
  • Networking is about building mutually beneficial relationships with other writers and publishers, not just about you getting what you can.
  • Don’t send Facebook friend requests to other writers and then ask them to like your page and buy your book: (a) it’s just rude and (b) other writers are not generally your audience.

 

Angela Slatter Links:

Website: http://www.angelaslatter.com/

Blog: http://www.angelaslatter.com/blog/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/angelaslatterauthor
Twitter: @AngelaSlatter

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B005QQ9FOA

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2847546.Angela_Slatter

 

 

 

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Sophie Yorkston is the extremely talented and awesome editor of SQ Magazine. She took home the Australian Shadows Award for Best Edited Publication, for SQ Mag issue #14 (IFWG Publishing). She’s quite active in the speculative ficiton scene and has several short stories of her own published. I look forward to reading more of her edited and written works!  Thanks so much for dropping by, Sophie!

SYorkston
Q. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
SY: I’m a bit of a wanderer (my muse is too) who has lived all over the east coast of Australia. I’m also the Editor in Chief of Australian speculative fiction ezine, SQ Mag (which best of all is free!). In my day job, I’m a scientist, with a love and interest in many scientific fields, and I think that really gets into my writing.
 
Q. What draws you to horror generally, and was there a defining moment where you something mad you think “Fuck it, I’m writing a horror story!”?  
SY: I admit, I started out with horror as my first foray into the genre, somewhere between Christopher Pike and Goosebumps. My tastes evolved, but for me it’s a toss-up with exploring the dark side of supernatural beliefs or alternatively how easily humans cross the line with misguided morals. A story I’m writing at the moment is all about people responding violently to someone they perceive “deserves” it. 
 
Q. What is your favourite horror story and what about it specifically rustled your jimmies? 
SY: That’s a very difficult question to answer. I really like the stories where there’s an element of futility, in that whatever the protagonist does, they still get caught in the mire. 
 
Q. What have you written? And what is your personal favourite of your own work?
SY: My current published works include a short suspense story titled Downpour in Subtropical Suspense (Black Beacon Books). A friend of mine said it reminded him of Alfred Hitchcock’s brand of fright, and I thought that a high compliment indeed. I also have a fun story called Manuka Mischief in a kids Christmas collection from New Zealand’s Phantom Feather Press. I’m shopping to find the right home for my favourite story I’ve written. And not to forget SQ Mag, which I edit, and whose Australiana edition won the Best Edited Work in last year’s Australian Shadows Awards. Still pretty chuffed about that.
 
Q. Do you have a favourite form or media for story telling?  E.g Short story, Novel, Audio drama or podcast, audioboo
SY: My work is largely about in short stories, but I think translating them to audio formats is a great way forward. And so many are so suitable to short film as well. One of my hobbies is photography and I think there’s a lot of scope for horror in visual mediums. Horror as a genre is a gold mine, particularly in its ease of translation to many different media types.
 
Q. What are you working on at the minute?

SY: My computer and notebooks are always littered with dozens of shorts, from scrappy notes through to polished pieces striving to find a published home. I’m also chipping away slowly at a magical realism novel that was inspired by my time living in Canada.

 

Q. You’re an editor as well as a writer. Do you have a preference? 
SY: I love to write, and I was lucky enough to fall into working with SQ Mag and with IFWG Publishing (both Australian and international imprints). Editing is mostly wonderful, apart from having to deal out rejections, because it opens you up to a lot of different stories and voices. If you’re lucky, you get to work with some of the true professionals of the business and learn something. But I have to admit, my own words on a page is still a special thrill.
 
Q. What attracts you to editing the work of others? And is there any quality or skill etc that makes a good horror editor, specifically? 
SY: I’ve always wanted to help; I’ve unofficially been editing work for decades for friends. We all get too close to our work and need the help of a little perspective. I don’t know that it’s only a horror genre issue, but I think what makes you a good editor is being able to hear your writer’s voice and not overriding that, to make their story the best it can be. It also helps to read widely to know the tropes of your chosen genre, in as much as you can (only so many hours in the day and many of us have day jobs). Lastly, I have to say, because part of it means I get to know new (at least to me) writers, and do what I love (second) best: read!
 
Q. Who is your favourite woman writer?
SY: Don’t make me choose! There’s many I love for different reasons. Anne McCaffrey, Audrey Niffenegger, Margaret Atwood, Emma Newman. Their explorations of the dark ways of human relationships and interactions are a real draw for me. 
 
Q. Are there any projects involving other women that you’re looking forward to or would like to get on board with?
SY: There’s some amazingly well run publishers (who coincidentally are run by women) in Australia producing great works and anthologies; Fablecroft and Twelfth Planet for example. I’m in awe of what they’re doing. Some of the anthologies showcasing women behind the stories and at the centre are pretty exciting, like She Walks in Shadows (Innsmouth Free Press, eds. Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles), Hear Me Roar (Ticonderoga) and the Women destroying (Lightspeed & Nightmare magazine) have been great for us as readers to know who to keep an eye out for.
Q. What book/s are you reading at present and what is in your TBR pile?
SY: Oh, so many! I’m trying to diversify the voices I’ve been reading: The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu; I’ve just finished and am reviewing Binti by Nnedi Okorafor. I’m also trying to support Australian and New Zealand writers and read and review as much as I can.
 
Q. What challenges have you encountered that are unique to being a woman in the horror genre, or can you describe some of the  challenges have you faced that are complicated by your gender?
SY: I think the greatest challenge for women in genre is that we’re silenced purely by the gender we were born into, unconsciously or otherwise. Including our experiences and our stories. Horror luckily has some excellent editors who are more egalitarian than others, who rectify that by giving equal credence on the basis of excellent writing.
 
Q. Why is Women in Horror month important? 
SY: I think it’s really important to make sure we work against a system that actively works against female writers. Particularly given we have such a wealth of talent here in Australia with internationally-recognised writers like Kaaron Warren, Angela Slatter, Margo Lanagan, and that’s just off the top of my head; there are many more excellent writers than I have named here. And for the lack of recognition of excellent writers in our own countries. 
 
Q. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
SY: Connect up with other writers and offer to help beta read their work. You learn so much about your own work from the very first time you do it. And if you’re lucky, you end up with a great group of friends!
Plus, read, read read! (And don’t forget to review if you got any enjoyment at all!)
 
 
Website: www.sqmag.com
Book Links:

https://mail.google.com/_/scs/mail-static/_/js/k=gmail.main.en.OVq8hpf-I6w.O/m=m_i,t,it/am=PiPeSMD83_uDuM4QQLv0kQrz3n9-95FiZ889_H9vAojULwD-b_b_AP4P3pu2UA/rt=h/d=1/t=zcms/rs=AHGWq9CKi-kYNM_Rzj3abb7zTohAY_Qxkghttps://mail.google.com/mail/u/1/?ui=2&view=bsp&ver=ohhl4rw8mbn4https://mail.google.com/mail/u/1/?ui=2&view=bsp&ver=ohhl4rw8mbn4

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Simon Dewar <simon.dewar83@gmail.com>

Feb 1

to sophieyorkston

Hey,

See below … attach your approved and endorsed personal image I can post with the interveiew.  If there is anything you want me to ask or want to discuss, let me know. Now is a chance for you to have take the mic. Make my blog your bully pulpit if you like.  I might shoot back some additional questions (*if I have time) based on stuff you say.
Thanks
S.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
What draws you to horror generally, and was there a defining moment where you something mad you think “Fuck it, I’m writing a horror story!”?
What is your favourite horror story and what about it specifically rustled your jimmies?
What have you written? And what is your personal favourite of your own work?
(*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest.)
Do you have a favourite form or media for story telling?  E.g Short story, Novel, Audio drama or podcast, audiobook
What are you working on at the minute?
You’re an editor as well as a writer. Do you have a preference?
What attracts you to editing the work of others? And is there any quality or skill etc that makes a good horror editor, specifically?
Who is your favourite woman writer?
Are there any projects involving other women that you’re looking forward to or would like to get on board with?
What book/s are you reading at present and what is in your TBR pile?
What challenges have you encountered that are unique to being a woman in the horror genre, or can you describe some of the  challenges have you faced that are complicated by your gender?
Why is Women in Horror month important/important to you?
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Website:
Blog:
Facebook:
Twitter:
Lnkedin:
Pinterest:
Amazon Author Page:
Book Links: (* American, UK, etc.)
Goodreads:
(* Any order you like and if I’ve missed anything, just type it in.)

Sophie

AttachmentsFeb 15 (2 days ago)

to me
Hey Simon,
Sorry this has taken a little while to get to you.
Hope it’s not too late!
Sophie


Date: Mon, 1 Feb 2016 21:28:05 +1100
Subject: WIHM Questions
From: simon.dewar83@gmail.com
To: sophieyorkston@hotmail.com


Hey,

See below … attach your approved and endorsed personal image I can post with the interveiew.  If there is anything you want me to ask or want to discuss, let me know. Now is a chance for you to have take the mic. Make my blog your bully pulpit if you like.  I might shoot back some additional questions (*if I have time) based on stuff you say.
Thanks
S.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’m a bit of a wanderer (my muse is too) who has lived all over the east coast of Australia. I’m also the Editor in Chief of Australian speculative fiction ezine, SQ Mag (which best of all is free!). In my day job, I’m a scientist, with a love and interest in many scientific fields, and I think that really gets into my writing.
 
What draws you to horror generally, and was there a defining moment where you something mad you think “Fuck it, I’m writing a horror story!”?  
I admit, I started out with horror as my first foray into the genre, somewhere between Christopher Pike and Goosebumps. My tastes evolved, but for me it’s a toss-up with exploring the dark side of supernatural beliefs or alternatively how easily humans cross the line with misguided morals. A story I’m writing at the moment is all about people responding violently to someone they perceive “deserves” it. 
 
What is your favourite horror story and what about it specifically rustled your jimmies? 
That’s a very difficult question to answer. I really like the stories where there’s an element of futility, in that whatever the protagonist does, they still get caught in the mire. 
 
What have you written? And what is your personal favourite of your own work?
(*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest.)
My current published work include a short suspense story titled Downpour in Subtropical Suspense (Black Beacon Books). A friend of mine said it reminded him of Alfred Hitchcock’s brand of fright, and I thought that a high compliment indeed. I also have a fun story called Manuka Mischief in a kids Christmas collection from New Zealand’s Phantom Feather Press. I’m shopping to find the right home for my favourite story I’ve written. And not to forget SQ Mag, which I edit, and whose Australiana edition won the Best Edited Work in last year’s Australian Shadows Awards. Still pretty chuffed about that.
 
Do you have a favourite form or media for story telling?  E.g Short story, Novel, Audio drama or podcast, audiobook
My work is largely about in short stories, but I think translating them to audio formats is a great way forward. And so many are so suitable to short film as well. One of my hobbies is photography and I think there’s a lot of scope for horror in visual mediums. Horror as a genre is a gold mine, particularly in its ease of translation to many different media types.
 
What are you working on at the minute?
My computer and notebooks are always littered with dozens of shorts, from scrappy notes through to polished pieces striving to find a published home. I’m also chipping away slowly at a magical realism novel that was inspired by my time living in Canada. 
 
You’re an editor as well as a writer. Do you have a preference?
I love to write, and I was lucky enough to fall into working with SQ Mag and with IFWG Publishing (both Australian and international imprints). Editing is mostly wonderful, apart from having to deal out rejections, because it opens you up to a lot of different stories and voices. If you’re lucky, you get to work with some of the true professionals of the business and learn something. But I have to admit, my own words on a page is still a special thrill.
 
What attracts you to editing the work of others? And is there any quality or skill etc that makes a good horror editor, specifically? 
I’ve always wanted to help; I’ve unofficially been editing work for decades for friends. We all get too close to our work and need the help of a little perspective. I don’t know that it’s only a horror genre issue, but I think what makes you a good editor is being able to hear your writer’s voice and not overriding that, to make their story the best it can be. It also helps to read widely to know the tropes of your chosen genre, in as much as you can (only so many hours in the day and many of us have day jobs). Lastly, I have to say because part of it means I get to know new (at least to me) writers, and do what I love (second) best: read!
 
Who is your favourite woman writer?
Don’t make me choose! There’s many I love for different reasons. Anne McCaffrey, Audrey Niffenegger, Margaret Atwood, Emma Newman. Their explorations of the dark ways of human relationships and interactions are a real draw for me. 
 
Are there any projects involving other women that you’re looking forward to or would like to get on board with? 
There’s some amazingly-well run publishers (who coincidentally are run by women) in Australia producing great works and anthologies; Fablecroft and Twelfth Planet for example. I’m in awe of what they’re doing. Some of the anthologies showcasing women behind the stories and at the centre are pretty exciting, like She Walks in Shadows (Innsmouth Free Press, eds. Silva Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles), Hear Me Roar (Ticonderoga) and the Women destroying (Lightspeed & Nightmare magazine) have been great for us as readers to know who to keep an eye out for.
What book/s are you reading at present and what is in your TBR pile?
Oh, so many! I’m trying to diversify the voices I’ve been reading: The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu; I’ve just finished and am reviewing Binti by Nnedi Okorafor. I’m also trying to support Australian and New Zealand writers and read and review as much as I can.
 
What challenges have you encountered that are unique to being a woman in the horror genre, or can you describe some of the  challenges have you faced that are complicated by your gender?
I think the greatest challenge for women in genre is that we’re silenced purely by the gender we were born into, unconsciously or otherwise. Including our experiences and our stories. Horror luckily has some excellent editors who are more egalitarian than others, who rectify that by giving equal credence on the basis of excellent writing.
 
Why is Women in Horror month important/important to you? 
I think it’s really important to make sure we work against a system that actively works against female writers. Particularly given we have such a wealth of talent here in Australia with internationally-recognised writers like Kaaron Warren, Angela Slatter, Margo Lanagan, and that’s just off the top of my head; there are many more excellent writers than I have named here. And for the lack of recognition of excellent writers in our own countries. 
 
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Connect up with other writers and offer to help beta read their work. You learn so much about your own work from the very first time you do it. And if you’re lucky, you end up with a great group of friends!
Plus, read, read read! (And don’t forget to review if you got any enjoyment at all!)
 
 
Website: 
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Sophie

12:32 PM (39 minutes ago)

to me

Hi Simon,

I was just going to email to ask if you could include a link to SQ Mag as well. http://www.sqmag.com

I also spotted some typos/mistakes in my replies–crumbs. Probably what happens if I do these things late in the evening. I’ve bolded the questions below where I made answer changes if it is at all possible to just copy paste those responses.
Thanks Simon for the opportunity. It’s been great to see all the interviews, and to see writers whose other spec fic stories I’ve enjoyed that are also horror!
Sophie

From: sophieyorkston@hotmail.com
To: simon.dewar83@gmail.com
Subject: RE: WIHM Questions
Date: Mon, 15 Feb 2016 19:21:52 +1000

Hey Simon,
Sorry this has taken a little while to get to you.
Hope it’s not too late!
Sophie


Date: Mon, 1 Feb 2016 21:28:05 +1100
Subject: WIHM Questions
From: simon.dewar83@gmail.com
To: sophieyorkston@hotmail.com

 


Hey,

See below … attach your approved and endorsed personal image I can post with the interveiew.  If there is anything you want me to ask or want to discuss, let me know. Now is a chance for you to have take the mic. Make my blog your bully pulpit if you like.  I might shoot back some additional questions (*if I have time) based on stuff you say.
Thanks
S.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’m a bit of a wanderer (my muse is too) who has lived all over the east coast of Australia. I’m also the Editor in Chief of Australian speculative fiction ezine, SQ Mag (which best of all is free!). In my day job, I’m a scientist, with a love and interest in many scientific fields, and I think that really gets into my writing.
 
What draws you to horror generally, and was there a defining moment where you something mad you think “Fuck it, I’m writing a horror story!”?  
I admit, I started out with horror as my first foray into the genre, somewhere between Christopher Pike and Goosebumps. My tastes evolved, but for me it’s a toss-up with exploring the dark side of supernatural beliefs or alternatively how easily humans cross the line with misguided morals. A story I’m writing at the moment is all about people responding violently to someone they perceive “deserves” it. 
 
What is your favourite horror story and what about it specifically rustled your jimmies? 
That’s a very difficult question to answer. I really like the stories where there’s an element of futility, in that whatever the protagonist does, they still get caught in the mire. 
 
What have you written? And what is your personal favourite of your own work?
(*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest.)
My current published work includes a short suspense story titled Downpour in Subtropical Suspense (Black Beacon Books). A friend of mine said it reminded him of Alfred Hitchcock’s brand of fright, and I thought that a high compliment indeed. I also have a fun story called Manuka Mischief in a kids Christmas collection, The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales, from New Zealand’s Phantom Feather Press. I’m shopping to find the right home for my favourite story I’ve written. And not to forget SQ Mag, which I edit, and whose Australiana edition won the Best Edited Work in last year’s Australian Shadows Awards. Still pretty chuffed about that.
 
Do you have a favourite form or media for story telling?  E.g Short story, Novel, Audio drama or podcast, audiobook
My work is largely about in short stories, but I think translating them to audio formats is a great way forward. And so many are so suitable to short film as well. One of my hobbies is photography and I think there’s a lot of scope for horror in visual mediums. Horror as a genre is a gold mine, particularly in its ease of translation to many different media types.
 
What are you working on at the minute?
My computer and notebooks are always littered with dozens of shorts, from scrappy notes through to polished pieces striving to find a published home. I’m also chipping away slowly at a magical realism novel that was inspired by my time living in Canada. 
 
You’re an editor as well as a writer. Do you have a preference? 
I love to write, but I was also lucky enough to fall into working with SQ Mag and with IFWG Publishing (both Australian and international imprints). Editing is mostly wonderful, apart from having to deal out rejections, because it opens you up to a lot of different stories and voices. If you’re lucky, you get to work with some of the true professionals of the business and learn something. But I have to admit, my own words on a page is still a special thrill.
 
What attracts you to editing the work of others? And is there any quality or skill etc that makes a good horror editor, specifically? 
I’ve always wanted to help; I’ve unofficially been editing work for decades for friends. We all get too close to our work and need the help of a little perspective. I don’t know that it’s only a horror genre issue, but I think what makes you a good editor is being able to hear your writer’s voice and not overriding that, to make their story the best it can be. It also helps to read widely to know the tropes of your chosen genre, in as much as you can (only so many hours in the day and many of us have day jobs). Lastly, I have to say because part of it means I get to know new (at least to me) writers, and do what I love (second) best: read!
 
Who is your favourite woman writer?
Don’t make me choose! There’s many I love for different reasons. Anne McCaffrey, Audrey Niffenegger, Margaret Atwood, Emma Newman. Their explorations of the dark ways of human relationships and interactions are a real draw for me. 
 
Are there any projects involving other women that you’re looking forward to or would like to get on board with? 
There’s some amazingly-well run publishers (who coincidentally are run by women) in Australia producing great works and anthologies; Fablecroft and Twelfth Planet for example. I’m in awe of what they’re doing. Some of the anthologies showcasing women behind the stories and at the centre are pretty exciting, like She Walks in Shadows (Innsmouth Free Press, eds. Silva Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles), Hear Me Roar (Ticonderoga) and the Women destroying (Lightspeed & Nightmare magazines) have been great for us as readers to know who to keep an eye out for.
What book/s are you reading at present and what is in your TBR pile?
Oh, so many! I’m trying to diversify the voices I’ve been reading so I’m currently reading: The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu; I’ve just finished and am reviewing Binti by Nnedi Okorafor. I’m also trying to support Australian and New Zealand writers and read and review as much as I can.

Simon Dewar <simon.dewar83@gmail.com>

12:37 PM (34 minutes ago)

to Sophie

Cool. Got it. And thankyou 🙂  You’re coming up soon… along with Ellen Datlow, Lauren Buekes and so many women my brains is turning to mush.

Good fun though.
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Originally I thought to write a piece regarding the change of the WFA from a bust of Lovecraft to something different, but I realised there just so much to talk about that it can’t be tackled in just a few hundred words, hence the “Part 1” in the title.  In coming days, I hope to post a follow up to delve into things a little further. I think this is a worthy and timely topic for discussion and hope that I have something of value to add to that discussion.

A couple of weeks back,  folks that run the World Fantasy Convention came out and stated that they’re no longer going to use the a bust of author Howard Philips Lovecraft, designed by artist Gahan Wilson, for the World Fantasy Award.

As first reported by Locus Magazine:

David G. Hartwell, co-chair of the World Fantasy Convention board, announced during the 2015 World Fantasy Awards that the current award trophy is being retired after this year.

The trophy, known informally as the “Howard,” is a bust of author H.P. Lovecraft designed by Gahan Wilson. In recent years, many writers, editors, and readers in the field (notably World Fantasy Award winner Nnedi Okorafor and nominee Daniel José Older) have called for the trophy to be changed, considering Lovecraft an inappropriate choice for the award due to his racist views. A design for the new trophy has not yet been announced.

Indeed, on November 10, Lovecraft biographer and editor, ST Joshi released the text of an letter he sent to David G. Hartwell, Co-chair of the World Fantasy Convention board:

I was deeply disappointed with the decision of the World Fantasy Convention to discard the bust of H. P. Lovecraft as the emblem of the World Fantasy Award. The decision seems to me a craven yielding to the worst sort of political correctness and an explicit acceptance of the crude, ignorant, and tendentious slanders against Lovecraft propagated by a small but noisy band of agitators.

I feel I have no alternative but to return my two World Fantasy Awards, as they now strike me as irremediably tainted. Please find them enclosed. You can dispose of them as you see fit.

Many authors have spoken, some more vociferously than others, about the need to change this award in several years.. including WFA winners Nnedi Okorafor, Sofia Samatar and others.

In the field of literary criticism there is a device known as the Implied Author (as opposed to the Author).  This Implied Author v.s Author relationship was referred to by T.S Eliot in his essay Tradition and Individual Talent, as “The Man Who Suffers and The Mind which Creates“.  The Man Who Suffers (i.e the Author)is the real life human being, the guy out there paying the bills and buying his hayfever medication from the pharmacy, raising his kids and working a day job.   The Mind Which Creates (i.e the Implied Author)  is the sense that we as readers get of the author and their personality,  or perhaps their views, or even their hopes and dreams.  This is a giant bone of contention between formalists of which T.S Eliot was one (i.e literary theorists and critics concerned with the form of a text) and those who seek to view the text through a more wider biographical lense and to take into account the time and place and the circumstances of the author before and during the time the work was written.

Ever the formalist, T.S Eliot wrote:

The analogy was that of the catalyst. When the two gases previously mentioned are mixed in the presence of a filament of platinum, they form sulphurous acid. This combination takes place only if the platinum is present; nevertheless the newly formed acid contains no trace of platinum, and the platinum itself is apparently unaffected; has remained inert, neutral, and unchanged. The mind of the poet is the shred of platinum. It may partly or exclusively operate upon the experience of the man himself; but, the more perfect the artist, the more completely separate in him will be the man who suffers and the mind which creates; the more perfectly will the mind digest and transmute the passions which are its material.

What Eliot is getting at here is that there is, particularly in the best of writers, a separation between the person of the writer and his creative mind, so that an author who might be a miser, or a complete jerk, or recluse can write stories and characters that are generous, and loving and outgoing. And vice versa!  Sure there are obvious exceptions to any rule, … a writer who is a jerk might write a mean story full of jerk characters, which mirrors his own life and experiences completely, but there is enough truth here that we can rationally recognise it.

Notwithstanding its lack of scholarly fides, I’m using wikipedia’s definition of the implied author here because, frankly, I like it.

The implied author is a concept of literary criticism developed in the 20th century. Distinct from the author and the narrator, the term refers to the character a reader may attribute to an author based on the way a literary work is written, which may differ considerably from the author’s true personality.

Author Saul Bellow once observed that it was not surprising, with all the revision that goes into a work, that an author might appear better on the page than in real life.

I love that last part. It’s so true. It’s like reading Orson Scott Card fiction and then reading his political views. Or listening to Eric Clapton play, before you find out he’s a big racist jerk.

Anyway,  lets take a look at HPL, shall we? Who was the Implied Author presented to us on HPL’s page?  Who was Lovecraft “the man”?

Lovecraft, the man, was a nervous recluse who, after his father died of syphilis in an insane asylyum, was raised by his mentally ill mother in Providence, Rhode Island.  He had extended periods of mental breakdown. He was an atheist and enamoured with science although was unable to pursue science as a serious academic study when he dropped out of highschool before graduation (on account of his poor mental health). He was a racist and held a lot of objectionable views. He briefly married a Jewish woman who later left him and he moved back to providence to live with his Aunts.  His views, which I personally find completely puerile and repulsive, are well known and extremely well documented owing to the fact that HPL was an amazingly prolific letter writer. He exchanged correspondence with a wide variety of figures, including notable writers of his time and those who would come along to be greats in their own right, including Clark Ashton Smith, Robert Bloch etc. You can read more of his biography here and here.

Lovecraft viewed the Anglo-German (Teutonic) race as the pinnacle of evolution. He viewed southern Europeans and Asians as inferior races.  He held the deepest contempt for Blacks and Australian Aboriginals which he considered little more than animals, incapable of creating their own civilised societies and civilizations.  He considered America to be the Anglo-Saxon civilization transported to another continent and improved through a more democratic political environment, but sharing the same values, qualities and roots as that of its Western European forebears. HPL hated multiculturalism and insisted that only a small number of non-whites be admitted into the United States or the nation would come to ruin, although, interestingly, he held there to be some value in other non-white cultures as long as their people stayed in their own countries and separate from white civilization so as not to retard the progress of Anglo-saxon/teutonic civilization.  In various of his letters he foresaw the need to “get rid” of non-whites from America should they ever come to threaten the stability and Anglo-Saxon fabric of  the nation. One or two comments that he made were very close to, if not actually, calls for ethnic cleansing. For the purposes of brevity I’m not going to post all the text from his letters, but if you’re unaccustomed to his views, you can read about his views and read discussion of his views herehere, here, here, here, and all over the internet.

Now that we’ve examined The Man Who Suffers/Author… let’s inspect The Mind Which Creates/Implied Author.

One need only make a close reading of his works to see his xenophobic loathing for any non-white and non-western European people in fact permeate the content and form of his written work.  The Shadow Over Innsmouth, is a tale of degenerate creatures crawling out of the sea and mating with human beings, was basically just a projection of his fears about immigration, inter-racial breeding,  multiculturalism etc. In which the narrator is exposed to the degenerate invaders and, at the end of the story, learns that he has their blood too and lapses into an almost religious kind of ecstasy, in just the same way that Lovecraft accuses non-whites of in many of his tales.  See here for a close reading of some of the text.  Lovecraft almost always introduces non-white characters, multiculuralism generally, inter-racial marriage and inter-racial sex, non-English languages ,etc… in terms of scorn, derision and in a wholly dehumanising fashion.

Charles Baxter rightly comments:

Racism is not incidental to Lovecraft’s vision but is persistent and essential to it. Ethnic minorities and monsters are, for him, often interchangeable. In his stories it is not unusual for a character to undergo a transformation into a creature from whom all humanity has been leached out, turning him into a foreign-seeming thing, an immigrant, whose attributes are both unpredictable and repellent.

A classic example of this is from  The Horror At Redhook, with its descriptions  of  New York’s multicultural society and the obvious implication that non-whites are destroying the city:

The population is a hopeless tangle and enigma; Syrian, Spanish, Italian, and negro elements impinging upon one another, and fragments of Scandinavian and American belts lying not far distant. It is a babel of sound and filth, and sends out strange cries to answer the lapping of oily waves at its grimy piers and the monstrous organ litanies of the harbour whistles. Here long ago a brighter picture dwelt, with clear-eyed mariners on the lower streets and homes of taste and substance where the larger houses line the hill. One can trace the relics of this former happiness in the trim shapes of the buildings, the occasional graceful churches, and the evidences of original art and background in bits of detail here and there—a worn flight of steps, a battered doorway, a wormy pair of decorative columns or pilasters, or a fragment of once green space with bent and rusted iron railing. The houses are generally in solid blocks, and now and then a many-windowed cupola arises to tell of days when the households of captains and ship-owners watched the sea.
From this tangle of material and spiritual putrescence the blasphemies of an hundred dialects assail the sky. Hordes of prowlers reel shouting and singing along the lanes and thoroughfares, occasional furtive hands suddenly extinguish lights and pull down curtains, and swarthy, sin-pitted faces disappear from windows when visitors pick their way through. Policemen despair of order or reform, and seek rather to erect barriers protecting the outside world from the contagion.

Other examples from his fiction compound the impression we get of his racist views.    Take the description of the black boxer in Herbert West: Reanimator as one example:

The negro had been knocked out, and moment’s examination showed us that he would permanently remain so. He was a loathsome, gorilla-like thing, with abnormally long arms which I could not help calling fore legs, and a face that conjured up thoughts of unspeakable Congo secrets and tom-tom poundings under an eerie moon.

There is no doubt that Lovecraft was a racist of the highest order and that his personal views he held influenced his fiction writing to the point that they (fear of the other/unknown/etc) are one of its central aspects.   He certainly fails T.S Eliot’s test for who is “the most perfect artist”, because it would seem that here was very little or no separation between his personal and creative spheres.  In Lovecraft’s case, The Man Who Suffered WAS the Mind Which Created. 

So what do I think?

I’m honestly so damn tired of people being outraged about everything all the time. So sick of everyone having some cause to champion. It sets my teeth on edge, even when I agree with why they’re outraged. (Largely because I don’t like people generally, and I’ve got enough of my own problems and can rarely handle worrying about the problems of others). My inner misanthrope, who may also be my inner privileged white misogynist, sometimes wishes everyone would just shut the the hell up. I try very hard, however, to recognise this as a character flaw and as objectionable and pray the better part of myself and logic prevails.  Therefore, I understand that things that don’t affect me or that I could care less about, do affect others and they do care about those things.  I can put myself in someone else’s shoes.

I’m white (anglo-celtic stock with a spattering of Western European)  but my lovely wife is of an arab background. Our inter-racial marriage and our three beautiful daughters would probably be the kind of “hybrid filth” that Lovecraft mentioned in The Horror at Red Hook.  So I can sympathise with Nnedi Okorafor when she said:

Anyway, a statuette of this racist man’s head is in my home. A statuette of this racist man’s head  is one of my greatest honors as a writer. A statuette of this racist man’s head sits beside my Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa and my Carl Brandon Society Parallax Award (an award given to the best speculative fiction by a person of color). I’m conflicted.

I can also relate to Usman Tanveer Malik who mentioned in one Facebook comment words to the effect that Lovecraft is hardly representative of “World Fantasy” and that awards should be something that is inclusive of people if wants to market itself as the “World Fantasy” award.  Which, ultimately, is probably the most important aspect here. In my opinion, the World Fantasy Award should be an award that should not be anglo-american centric.

Indeed, as Lenika Cruz mentions in The Atlantic:

On some level, Joshi’s frustration is understandable. The nebulous field of weird fiction wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t imbued with the spirit of Lovecraft’s strange, dark creations. And the question of how much to separate a cultural figure from his or her personal beliefs has always been an uneasy one. But Joshi’s claims are myopic. Lovecraft’s removal is about more than just the writer himself; it’s not an indictment of his entire oeuvre. The change is symbolic but powerful—it’s a message to the next generation of writers, artists, and editors that they belong in the genre of science fiction and fantasy.

With this in mind, I largely support the move to change the WFA from a bust of Lovecraft to something different. I don’t think Lovecraft is representative of world fantasy, even if I do love his stories ..(if not for him, Jack Ketchum [who’s mentor Robert Bloch was actually the protege of HPL] and Stephen King, I may not even be a writer). If Lovecraft’s bust had been the World Horror Award, I may (tentatively!) have been less supportive as he’s clearly a towering figure in horror genre, even if he was an odious racist. But fantasy? No way.  As the shit-stirrer par excellence (yet amazingly talented and knowledgeable author and editor) Nick Mamatas mentioned recently, while we view Horror as a distinct genre (which leads many of us to question HPL’s suitability to be linked to the award), if anything, it is more appropriately  a sub-genre of Fantasy in general. I can’t help but feel that if we follow this line of logic and view HPL’s work as part of a Fantasy sub genre, he’s still a just single author from a sub-genre and hardly, in my opinion, representative of the genre as a whole.

I suggest we all take a collective chill pill. Whether you think the so-called “Social Justice Warriors” are not worth Lovecraft’s literary fingernail or not (like Vox Day), changing the appearance of the award doesn’t take away from the achievements of Lovecraft.  Nor, does it change his effect and stature in fiction. Nor will it mean less people will read Lovecraft.  It doesn’t take away from fans, authors or editors who like Lovecraft of write or edit Lovecraftian fiction — most of you are great people and those writers and editors amongst you are extremely talented individuals. Beyond that, you can’t insult the dead. HPL seriously doesn’t care (he’s dead) and his place in literary history is assured.  Those who want the change have their opinion (which is a legit concern to them and many others), and you have yours. You can lobby the World Fantasy Convention with your own views on the matter if you want, as can authors or fans of any other persuasion.

So, I say, let’s just make the award an elf, or a dragon, or a unicorn or make it a plaque and not a bust or idol of something at all — and then can we just get on with the business of writing, reading and enjoying new fiction. 

Update:

Since I drafted this post a whole bunch of stuff has gone down, including ST Joshi’s wife yelling at an author and saying he’s now blacklisted from any press where Joshi works, not to be over-shadowed by Joshi coming out and saying Ellen Datlow is immoral and that she’s opportunistically released lovecraftian works while backstabbing his corpse by seeking to get the “Howie” replaced as the WFA bust.    You can find some of this on Joshi’s website.  As far as I’m concerned, this is beyond the pale and I think ST Joshi owes Ellen a public apology.  Wow. You crossed the line, dude. Sit down.

I am writing a supplementary post delving into greater detail regarding some of the issues surrounding this current furor which I believe to be quite pertinent to the discussion, namely that of free speech, tradition, privilege and his legacy and effect on current race discourse.