Thursday, November 24, 2011

Anne McCaffrey

When I heard that Anne McCaffrey had died yesterday, a great sorrow overtook me unlike any sorrow I have felt for the passing of an esteemed writer. Even now this is difficult for me to write. I have lost a mentor.

My story is probably very similar to many, across generations, and that is a wonderful legacy to leave. Anne McCaffrey set me on my path.

In 1989, twenty years after the book came out, I was introduced to 'Dragonflight' via my fifth form English curriculum. I often wonder in hindsight at how radical and equally how safe this choice was for a fifteen year old girl. Why was I never introduced to Joanna Russ, Ursula K. Le Guin or Octavia E. Butler? Why had I never been given science fiction of any kind to read as part of a curriculum before?

That term in English was an absolute revelation. I have to admit I struggled with the first half of the book. I had been given no introduction on what to expect, and as previous curriculum mandated books had been very dry affairs I was not at all prepared for a fantasy novel. I read it absolutely straight, wondering what the hell all this was, until Ramoth and Mnementh's mating flight. Dragons? Dragons. DRAGONS! WITH TELEPATHY! DRAGONS (and people) HAVING SEX.

Heady stuff for a hormonal adolescent in a conservative small town.

It took me a few more years to understand what a barrier busting character Lessa was, and an even further few more years to deconstruct the women of Pern in a third-wave feminist perspective. I distinctly remember focusing on F'lar in my character study because...isn't the male's perspective most important? Ahh, silly fifteen year old me. Sorry Trev, I understand what you were trying to get us to see...NOW.

From then on I read every Anne McCaffrey book I could get my hands on, as well as participating in Pern Mushes and Moos. As per my book collection fetish, I carefully collected every Pern (then Crystal Singer, then Ship, then Talents, then Freedom) book and read them in order. I was not so much a fan of the Petaybee and Acorna series, as at the time those books were coming out I had moved on to other writers and genres, furthering my specfic education.

While my relationship with McCaffrey's writing has changed over the years - I am critical of the ableism and virginity fetishizing in the Ship books, and the regressive patriarchal, feudal society Pern had become; I stopped reading her newer writings - her influence on my writing never waned. While I was never privileged enough to meet or correspond with McCaffrey, a memory I hold dear to my heart is the knowledge that she judged my story one year in the 'Writers of the Future' contest. She saw my story, and along with other great names that year judged that I had potential, and encouraged me accordingly (a 'Highly Commended' certificate).

Anne McCaffrey's influence on my life is huge. My love for science fiction and fantasy and collecting dragons began with her. Her books introduced me to the art of Michael Whelan. She showed me that women can write fun and fantastic science fiction. She whispered a little earworm into me: "you can do this too".

While I am yet to fulfill the potential Anne McCaffrey promised me, I will always be grateful to her for the dreams she kindled in me. Thank you Anne. I will pass on your legacy to the next generation, keep writing and keep dreaming.

The dragons are keening tonight.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Bad Writer's Advice On Writer's Advice

So you want to be a writer. That's great! Here, take this advice. No, not that advice. THIS advice. Do what we tell you and become the next superstar! We have the ear of the publishing industry, so how could we put you wrong?

Advice for writers. There's a lot of it out there. From the humble article (written for x cents per word) written by someone who has Made It (and whose experience may bear absolutely no relevance to another individuals needs), to entire blogs, books and careers dedicated to fitting budding wordsmiths into saleable moulds, there is a veritable torrent of advice.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

VA: "Raising Tom Chambers" by Daniel Powell at Redstone Science Fiction

My second narration for Redstone Science Fiction of Daniel Powell's "Raising Tom Chambers" is now available.

Direct download of the audio is available here.

I've been experimenting with finding the best tone and accent for Redstone listeners, and this narration is done with an american accent.

Thanks again to Mike and Paul at Redstone who are, as always, incredibly supportive and a pleasure to work with.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

So Close I Can Almost Taste It

I've had another of those rejections.

The ones where you're so close, it's within your grasp. Someone has seen you, acknowledged you, shown that you're on the right track.

The rejection is from a venue I highly respect, would be thoroughly honoured to be in, and the feedback  contained words like "brilliant" and "fascinating".

Most heartening of all was that someone finally got the story. I'm not someone who is going to pander to a reader. I'm not going to make a story an easy read or insult their intelligence. I want my reader to chew on my words, find their own interpretation in them, but ultimately dig to find what I have to say.

One day I may write that fun fantasy romp or space opera - it may even be happening now, I'm not sure where the Katewin stories may take me. But at this point I'm exploring form and art and technique, saying weird and mighty and wonderful things to find what sticks, what sounds like me.

Right now the art is calling me, like a siren. Somebody recently told me Don't Give Up. And I promise, I won't. Because "I've seen a hint of  it, this happiness this bliss, just knowing it exists, I know I must try, I've caught a glimpse of it, one moment just one kiss, from the corner of my eye..."

Friday, November 11, 2011

"Fat Girl" Cover Art and Release Date

Crossed Genres Publications have released a sneak peek at the cover art for "Fat Girl In A Strange Land", of which my story "Cartography, and the Death of Shoes" is a part of.

The anthology will be released February 17, 2012.

Tasteful image of a fat woman wearing a space suit and helmet floating amongst rocks

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

VA: "Freefall" by Peter Roberts, Redstone Science Fiction, November 2011

Available now at Redstone Science Fiction is my reading of Peter Roberts "Freefall".

Direct link to the mp3 audio is available here.

It's been great working with Redstone to get their podcast stories up and running, and I will be narrating more for them in the future. I'm very grateful for the opportunity.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Chocolate For The Soul

I've been on Holiday this past week.

That's a holiday with a capital haitch because it was truly fabulous and utterly needed. Maybe you saw me tweeting incessently about it (this post isn't for you then!), because everything I did and saw was a wonder. I don't get out often enough. I need to travel more.

The past eight months have been utter arse, and I needed the glitter of something fabulous and the bright lights of an unbroken city to restore my soul.

A writing soul that has been sorely lacking.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"The Ten Thousand Steps" Expanded Horizons November 2011

Fat girls rule!

I'm pleased to announce that my story "The Ten Thousand Steps" is now live in the November 2011 issue of  Expanded Horizons.

This is the second story published which features Katewin and the Phoenix, who made their first appearance in "Mid-life Crisis".

This is also the second story I've sold this year that features a fat female protagonist. Huzzah for Fat Acceptance and the diversity at Expanded Horizons.

Rainbow Unicorn Shiny!