Brian Sammons at Dark Regions Press Interviews Lynne Jamneck

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By Brian Sammons and Lynne Jamneck

 

Brian M SammonsSo, Lynne, what were the authors that got you hooked on reading? Your favourites, the ones you couldn’t get enough of.

Lots of Hardy Boys books as a kid and a series of Afrikaans books called Trompie and Saartjie, the latter kind of the South African incarnation of Pippie Longstocking (Trompie was the boys’ version). I read Stephen King and Dean Koontz from about the age of 11/12. Used to scare the crap out of myself (“We all float down here!”) but I couldn’t help it. My mom used to give me her adult library cards to get them out, because you only used to get adult cards at about 16. My mom is cool.

When did your love affair with books begin and what led to it?

I’ve always liked my own company; never felt an intense need for having other people around (though I seem to have become more social over the past few years). I just remember always loving books. Here was an object that told a story, and I could interpret that story in whatever way I chose. No-one else could interrupt and say “No, the duck was white, not blue!” What more could you want?

What led you to start creating your own stories and books?

The idea of telling my own stories was terribly exciting. I started seriously considering this around the age of 17. What’s the psychology behind wanting people’s attention like that? Reading a book is a significant commitment. You’re letting yourself be led blindly, and though you can sometimes guess where a story is headed, it’s still kind of no-man’s land, you know? It’s a big risk you’re taking! You might even meet some blue ducks. Something about that sort of commitment appeals to me.

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BLT: Black Leather Times in Fandom

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amelia-g-DSCBLT05696web2by Amelia G

 

The zine revolution had its roots in science fiction fandom. When my unsavory pals and I first starting putting Black Leather Times (BLT for short) together, a lot of our social lives revolved around going to science fiction conventions, where we gave out a couple thousand free copies of each issue. We even did a new issue for each time we attended a DragonCon, EveCon, CastleCon, and BaltiCon. As well as the occasional Disclave or Phenomicon or other event which seemed like a good excuse for a road trip in outlandish garb.

Each issue of BLT featured cool artwork, insightful humor, and a special theme. Our themes included Conventions, SF&F, and D&D/B&D, as well as more mundane topics such as Back to School, Valentines, and Cannibalism. Some of the fandom-related topics included convention sex-checklists, fannish lexicons, how to tell if you are dating a vampire, and deconstructions of the debate on differences between elf ears and Spock ears.

Author Shariann Lewitt worked on many of the early issues of BLT. She and I co-wrote a lot of appalling (but funny, and sometimes helpful) advice, regarding dystopian SF and travel and special occasions and mohawks, for the black-clad crowd in the con circuit. Shariann once convinced me that we had to eat at every sushi restaurant in the DC area because our zine totally needed a page of sushi reviews. She and I did co-write a DC sushi round-up, so I guess all that deliciousness was sort of work and possibly some of the most reasonable advice BLT ever offered. Unless one considers it more reasonable to have a PhD write an academically sound set of instructions for making shrunken heads from one’s enemies.

BLT is about to turn 25 years old. For its silver anniversary, we’re doing a Kickstarter to publish a giant, 400 page retrospective omnibus book. It will contain every hilarious issue of the BLT zine, some reminiscences, and technical information on production for fellow zinesters. If you feel like checking it out, the Kickstarter page features a couple sample pages and I’ll be adding more to the Updates section over the coming week.

Thanks for reading!


 

Amelia G is a publisher, editor, writer, and photographer. She generally writes about, and photographs, people with unusual lifestyles. She has been published by Playboy, Rolling Stone, Blue Blood, Simon & Schuster, Circlet Press, and hundreds of other venues. Amelia loves new places and conventions, and has been a guest speaker at World Fantasy, DragonCon, SXSW, and many others. Learn more at http://www.ameliag.com.

The Many Amazing Stories of Leading Ladies in SFF Fiction

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by Rebecca Roland

HeadshotDuring a recent conversation on Twitter, my publisher asked me if it was ever a conscious decision to write a female fantasy lead. My immediate answer was a resounding yes. I love reading about women doing cool, important things, so I wanted to write about that, which got me thinking about some of the reasons an author might write about a female lead in a fantasy novel.

1. It’s fun to read — and write — about strong female characters. Sometimes when the term ‘strong female character’ is mentioned, it brings up images of women who can kick serious butt, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Brienne of Tarth. And certainly sometimes a strong character of any gender is one who can lift a lot, fight well, or maybe run a marathon. But mental toughness is a large component of being a strong character as well. If you have the muscles but flee in terror when a dragon shows up to eat everyone you’re supposed to protect, then you’re not strong in all the ways that matter.

Incidentally, I always think of Django Wexler’s excellent essay on women warriors when I think of physically tough women in fantasy. If you enjoy history, or if you’re looking for some good thoughts on world building, then this essay is for you.

2. To make an understatement, motherhood is often a struggle, often a pleasure, and always a challenge. It can make life … complicated. Motherhood is often unrealistically portrayed in many mediums, and it’s become something of a competitive sport in the real world, with each parent trying to outdo the other. Fantasy is a great way to explore the family dynamics, the power struggles, and the challenges and joys of being a mother. From Cordelia Naismith in Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series to Cersei Lannister in A Song of Ice and Fire, mothers struggle to do what they think is best for their children. And it is truly glorious to experience a mama bear showing her teeth and claws to protect her kids.

3. I’ve been working in the same field for fifteen years, which makes me feel a bit old, but also says something about how much I enjoy my job, so it’s great to read about women who are good at their jobs and who derive a sense of accomplishment from them. I think urban fantasy serves this well, like Kara Gillian of the Demon Summoner series. She’s a competent police officer who enjoys helping people and catching bad guys. I love to read about Women Doing Their Jobs Well.

4. When I was a teenager, a family member actually told me, “Don’t rock the boat” when I was angry over something and wanted to change the situation. I think a lot of young women are given the same sort of message. “Don’t cause trouble.” “You need to be nice.” You know, stuff that doesn’t help you navigate through life unless your goal is to be a doormat. So I love, love, love reading about young women who challenge the status quo because I wish I had more of that message when I was young. That’s part of the reason I love Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. And Hermione Granger was powerful not because of her magic, but because she was brilliant and that she stood up for what was right.

I want to read about women doing cool, important things. I want to read about women who work in fulfilling careers, who parent, who are amazingly strong (not just physically, but also mentally). I want to read about women who push for what’s right, who know how to have fun, who laugh, who cry, who care for their friends and family, and who care for themselves.

And I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

 ❑

Rebecca is the author of the Shards of History series and The King of Ash and Bones, and Other Stories. Her short fiction has appeared in publications such as Nature, Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, Stupefying Stories, Plasma Frequency, and Every Day Fiction. She is a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop. You can find out more about Rebecca and her work at rebeccaroland.net or follow her on Twitter at @rebecca_roland.
Her most recent novel, Fractured Days (World Weaver Press, 2015), is available at many online retailers (along with the previous books in the series).

Reblog: A Tribute to Roger Zelazny

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by Trent Zelazny

Happy birthday, Dad.

“From far, from eve and morning
and twelve-winded sky,
the stuff of life to knit me blew hither:
here am I.”

I never thought I would ever be sitting here at my computer writing something like this. The story I would like to tell is far too complicated. So I shall tell another story, and shall attempt to be brief.

Most children, at an early age, look up to their mother or father, see them as heroes, as mythical demigods, invincible beings, what have you. They are our providers; they take care of us. In a sense, they are gods. I was not an especially weird child for seeing my father in this light. When I was a little boy, Dad was the greatest man in the world. He was my hero. I wanted to be just like him when I grew up (more on that in a minute). Unfortunately, when young innocent children reach those dreadful teenage years, for whatever nebulous reason, these same all-powerful adult figures are suddenly, in the eyes of adolescence, regarded as uncool. They become the last people in the world some teenager wants to be seen with. I don’t know why this is, but most of us know that it is.

I would be lying if I said I was not guilty of this same outlook. I was nothing special, just another naïve kid who foolishly thought I could rule the world (with what, I don’t know). Sometimes, though, I’ve wondered if there was more to it than that.

My older brother Devin and I were both very much into horror films and comic books when we were kids. I still love horror now. My father noticed this interest we had and encouraged it in both of us. He rented us scary movies any sane parent wouldn’t let their kids watch even after they had kids of their own. He bought us comics, told us spooky stories. I can remember being so young that I was barely able to write and I wanted to write stories like Dad. But I wanted to write scary stories. I wanted to remake Friday the 13th Part 3 or something, only in words. Hell of a goal, huh? But hey, that’s how these things develop, right?

My father gave me this old clunker of a word processor typewriter, the kind with the little LED display about the length of a stingy stick of Juicy Fruit and the body shaped like a reject from George Lucas’ model spaceship department. Where he got this machine, I do not know. I do know that I typed on it a lot, never much of anything special (I was just learning to write, let alone type) until the day at my grandmother’s house when I completed my very first short story. It was called, I believe, “Ax Killer,” and it was a six-year-old’s conglomeration of bits from different horror films, sewn painfully together with no plot, no characterization, nor anything else of literary value. Basically lots of “AAAHHHH!” with misspellings and little to no grammatical usage. Still, I was proud of all two and half double-spaced pages I had cranked out.

After discouragement from my grandmother, I didn’t write again until I was almost in high school, close to the end of my eighth grade year. It was quite a while yet before it would have any true significance. My English teacher, Lynn Woodard, decided to take a break from the usual this and that, and told everybody to take out their notebooks. For the first half of class we were to write a short story about anything we wanted. For the second half we were going to read them.

I don’t know why it was that, for one of the only times in the past ten years, I decided to put pen to paper that day. Maybe I was just inspired. Whatever it was, I wrote a story, connecting a random string of events with random nonsensical dialogue. I understood stories. I didn’t understand writing them. I’d given up on that when I was six. Continue reading

Reblog: Nomination, Globalization, & Mermaids That Will Eat Your Face: on being nominated for a 2014 nebula award

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Alyssa Wongby Alyssa Wong

I am incredibly honored and excited to announce that my short story, “The Fisher Queen,” originally published in the May/June issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, has been nominated for a 2014 Nebula Award, one of the biggest awards in science fiction and fantasy! The full list of nominations is here, and I’m so glad to see such a range of brilliant, biting, heart-holepunching stories on it.

I was also incredibly excited to find out that I’m the first Filipin@/person of Filipin@ descent to be nominated for the Nebula. It’s humbling, more than a little terrifying, and a huge honor. It’s also a sign that American SFF, a field that was once very white and male, continues to broaden to include, nurture, and provide space for people of color, people in non-Western countries, and people who write in languages other than English. This year alone, the Nebula slate includes French-Vietnamese award winner Aliette de Bodard; indomitable Cixin Liu, writing in Chinese and translated into English by the brilliant Ken Liu; and newcomer Usman T. Malik, the first Pakistani Nebula nominee. It’s heartening and beautiful to see.

However, that doesn’t mean that we don’t still have to fight for our space in American SFF. There have been a lot of loud voices this past year (and many years before that) complaining about the changing landscape of science fiction and fantasy. The aftereffects of colonialism and preferential attitudes toward Western writing influence the literary landscape in many non-Western countries, creating environments with damaging systems for local writers. That being said, this past year has brought many concrete landmarks of progress, including Continue reading