douglassmith's blog

"Out of the Light" in New Anthology

Crazy Town anthology coverMy urban fantasy story "Out of the Light" is included in Crazy Town, a new anthology from Rogue Blades Entertainment. If you've been a subscriber to my monthly newsletter for a while, you would've had a chance to download a free ebook version of "Out of the Light" back in June.

From the editor: "Crazy Town is an anthology of hardboiled tales – crime and suspense tales; gritty, grimy, sexy, and bloody film-noir type tales with a fantastic twist. Think of the kind of stories that you would expect in Black Mask or True Detective, but with just enough speculative elements to steer toward Weird Tales or Twilight Zone territory."

Crazy Town is edited by Jason M. Waltz, considered one of the best editors in the adventure fantasy business. I'm thrilled to have one of my favourite stories included in one of Jason's anthos. If this type of fantasy appeals to you, you can pre-order Crazy Town here.

And another three for three

ReLaunch coverI seem to be doing these things in threes lately, because, similar to a triple for consecutive appearances in Black Infinity (see previous blog entry), I will have three stories in the new Re-Imagined reprint anthology series, edited by Kelly A. Harmon and Vonnie Winslow Grist.

My first-contact story, "Symphony," recently appeared in Re-Launch, an SF anthology (in case the name and cool spacey cover to the right didn't give that away). I will also have stories in the sister reprint anthologies: Re-Quest (fantasy) and Re-Terrify (horror). More to come on those when they appear.

"Symphony" first appeared in the Winnipeg-based Canadian literary magazine, Prairie Fire, in a special SF issue dedicated to former Winnipeg SF writer of the Golden Age of SF, A.E. van Vogt. The issue was run as a contest, with stories judged by Robert J. Sawyer. "Symphony" won second prize and was an Aurora Award finalist the next year.

You can purchase Re-Launch here.

Three for three in Black Infinity

Black Infinity 3 cover

My supernatural horror story, "By Her Hand, She Draws You Down," was recently reprinted in issue #3 of the UK anthology series Black Infinity.

"By Her Hand..." was my first horror story and was selected for The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror when it came out. It also was made into a short indie film that won several awards when it toured festivals around the world.

This is my third appearance in Black Infinity, one story in each of their first three issues. My dystopian SF story "Going Harvey in the Big House" appeared in Black Infinity #1, and my urban fantasy tale "Out of the Light" was included in Black Infinity #2

I love the art design of their retro covers (see right), but the biggest thrill is to have my name appear on that cover along with some of the giants of the SF field, like John W. Campbell, Lester del Rey, Jack Williamson, Harry Harrison, and Philip K. Dick.

You can buy Black Infinity #3 here.

Aurora bundle spotlight: Resurrection Man

Resurrection ManMy final interview for the current (but ending TODAY at midnight!) Aurora Award ebook bundle at Storybundle is with Sean Stewart, author of Resurrection Man.

What is your favourite scene in the book, and why?

My favourite scene in Resurrection Man is easy - the opening. The whole idea started with a single thought as I was standing at a bus-stop in Vancouver: Wouldn't it be an incredible opening for a book if you started with the main character performing an autopsy ... on himself. ?!?

This was immediately followed, of course, by me thinking "That's stupid. That's impossible. What would that even mean?"

But my Writer's Spidey-Sense was going off like crazy, assuring me that this was a Really Good Idea; that if I lived to be 100, I was never going to come up with a better metaphor for, um, self-examination.

So I slowly had to build the whole world of the book back to get to that first scene: Dante in the boathouse with his sister Sarah and his step-brother Jet, nervously picking up a filleting knife and about to cut into his own dead body.

Did you know you were writing a series when you first began this book, or did the idea of a series grow from the telling of this book?

This might be the biggest mistake of my career. I totally thought of this as a stand-alone novel ... but in fact it laid the course for my next four books. Two of them, Mockingbirdand Perfect Circle, were stylistic children, as I explored the "magic in the real world" vibe at the heart of Resurrection Man.

Two others, The Night Watch and Galveston, which won the World Fantasy Award, were literally set in the same world as Resurrection Man, but years in the future, with different characters and locations. If I had it to do all over again, I would have written a multi-volume saga following the same characters through that historical timeline.

What is your favourite character or relationship in the book, and why?

I really had fun with Dante's step-brother, Jet. He is a grouchy, sardonic dude - one of those people who feels like they never quite fit in. He keeps a ball of rust for a pet, throwing in a staple or a piece of steal wool once a month or so, and a paperclip as a treat for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Jet is convinced that he is a changeling of some kind, a person without a soul.

Late in the book someone else tells him that souls aren't something you're born with - they silt up over time, like sandbars, based on who you are and what you have done. He finally gets the fact that everybody else thinks of him as just part of the family, and in his own grumpy way has no defense against the fact that his family loves him and cares about him.

I think everyone knows that person who is armored against insults, but hapless against affection; it was fun to show that dynamic between him and the rest of the family.

Can you give us a fun fact about the book?

This e-book edition is special, and better than the original published version, because my old friend and accomplished artist Marc Taro Holmes created a series of gorgeous illustrations just for the online version. I think they add a terrific mood and ambiance to the reading experience, like adding a score to a film. I hope other people like them as much as I do.

~~~

Thanks, Sean. Readers, this is absolutely your last chance to get this amazing deal on ten award winners and finalists for the best in Canadian speculative fiction. Go to Storybundle NOW to pick up this excellent collection of novels and anthologies. The bundle is over at midnight today.

Aurora bundle spotlight: Strange Bedfellows

Strange Bedfellows coverHere is the seventh in my interview series for the current Aurora Award ebook bundle available at Storybundle (but only for two more days!). Today, we talk to Hayden Trenholm, publisher of Bundoran Press and the editor for the anthology Strange Bedfellows.

What is your strongest memory from editing this anthology / assembling this collection?

Although I had previously edited an anthology for Bundoran Press, this was the first one I did after assuming ownership, and it was important to me to do something special. Politics and science fiction essentially define my life so putting them together was a natural.

What I remember best is the flood of really great stories we got from around the world from both well-established and novice writers. When it came to the final selection process, I had enough good stories to fill two anthologies, and it was an agonizing process to slowly weed them down to final selection.

As it was, I went more than 10000 words over my intended length, and to this day, there are several stories that didn’t make the final cut the I still think about and wish I could have included.

Is there something in these stories that you consider to be particularly Canadian or that Canadians would relate to or recognize in terms of sensibilities, world view, societal beliefs, etc.?

In the end, there were only two stories written by Canadians in the anthology (with 7 other nationalities represented), but I still think the anthology was quite Canadian in its values. There was wide representation of political views though nothing from the extreme left or right. There was a gender balance between men and women plus stories from writers who identify elsewise as well as diversity of race and religions.

In this sense the anthology strived toward inclusivity—just as Canada itself strives toward inclusivity and opportunity for all. Whether it succeeds is for the readers to judge.

What music would be the ideal listening soundtrack for readers for this book?

Obviously a collection of world music—maybe one of the ones put together for Real World Records by (politically driven) Peter Gabriel.

~~~

Thanks, Hayden. People, if you're a fan of speculative fiction and want to pick up ten award winners and finalists for a bargain price, grab this bundle now. And I mean now. There are only two days left before this deal is gone forever.

Aurora bundle spotlight: Napier's Bones

Napier's Bones coverNext up in my interview series on the current (but over soon!) Aurora Award bundle from Storybundle is Derryl Murphy, author of Napier's Bones. It's great urban fantasy with a dose of mathematics and history, and it's a lot of fun. I had the honour to be a beta reader for Derryl on an early draft and was thrilled to see it come out from the excellent Toronto press, Chizine Publications. And even more thrilled when it was a finalist for the Aurora.

Besides Napier's Bones, Derryl is also the author of the ecological science fiction collections Wasps at the Speed of Sound and Over the Darkened Landscape. He's been a finalist for the Aurora Award four times. Here's his interview. 

What's your favourite relationship between two characters in this book and why?

Between Dom and Billy, because of the mystery that lies between and within them, and because of how much they are forced to share by their proximity with each other. Being forced to think about how they would respond to each other within that framework was fun for me.

What's your favourite scene in this book and why?

The visit to the Ballachuan Hazelwood, by far. I was lucky enough to visit Scotland and England to research for Napier's Bones, some of it in libraries and some in real locations. This was on Seil Island, after crossing the "Bridge Over the Atlantic," a very old stone bridge barely wide enough to handle the odd tour bus. The wood itself was an absolute delight, and I suspect very few people go there, or even know it exists. Most tourists cross the bridge, take a picture, then head back.

I could also, however, name the scene in the church that takes place directly afterward. It is a real church, and while a took liberties with a mathematical concept in that scene, it was good fun to write.

Is there something in this book that you consider to be particularly Canadian or that Canadians would relate to or recognize in terms of sensibilities, world view, societal beliefs, etc.?

Dropping Dom and Jenna into Edmonton and using the peculiarities of that city's streets was most fun for me, and so of course I've never heard anyone mention it.

What's your strongest memory about writing this book?

On the flight back home from Scotland in 2003, hammering away at a tiny keyboard hooked up to my Palm Pilot, I managed something like 10K words of the beginning of a very rough first draft.

~~~

Wow. A Palm Pilot. That takes me back. I had a Palm, too, and a Targus keyboard that folded up into the size of a deck of cards. It was a surprisingly usable little setup but I don't think I ever did 10,000 words at a sitting with it. Anyway, thanks for the interview, Derryl.

The Aurora Award ebook bundle is still available, but not for long. Only four more days, so go grab some of the best of Canadian speculative fiction at an incredible price.

Aurora bundle spotlight: Fallen Angel

Fallen Angel coverThe next interview in my spotlight series on the current Aurora Award ebook bundle is with Stephanie Bedwell-Grime on her paranormal romance, Fallen Angel. Stephanie is the author of more than thirty novels and novellas, as well as numerous shorter works. She is a five-time finalist for the Aurora and has also been an EPIC eBook Award finalist.

What’s your strongest memory of writing this book?

My most vivid memory of writing Fallen Angel is working on Chapter Thirteen. I was writing about the apocalypse. I was really immersed in the story when the radio station I was listening to made this weird click sound and the signal died. A second later the power to my computer went out.

I later learned that the power in a lot of the east coast was out, but for a moment I thought, Oh, oh! Because I was writing about Armageddon after all…

What’s your favourite relationship between two characters in this book and why?

My favourite relationship is the one between the main character, Porsche Winter and Cupid. Cupid is the kind of best friend everyone needs. He’s always got Porsche’s back, even when she’s in heaven, hell, or jail. The one thing they don’t agree on is Porsche’s relationship with her former charge, Alex Chalmers, which causes a lot of friction between them.

What’s your favourite scene in this book and why?

My favourite scene has got to be the one where Porsche barges into Cupid’s apartment in heaven. Porsche describes Cupid’s lair as a “pink, fake-fur nightmare”. I had so much fun coming up with things that Cupid might have in his home, like his fuchsia shag carpet vying for attention against a red velvet couch and white pillows.

But Porsche’s visit comes at a bad moment and Cupid is furious. Suffice to say the visit does not go well.

~~~

Thanks, Steph! Folks, time is running out on this bundle. Only five more days before it's gone. So check it out here for your chance to own some of the best of Canadian speculative fiction at a bargain price.

Aurora bundle spotlight: Enter, Night

Enter Night coverMy next interview in my spotlight blog series on the current Aurora Award ebook bundle is with Michael Rowe on his vampire novel, Enter, Night, a finalist for the Aurora when it came out. He is also the author of the novels Wild Fell (2013) and October (2017.) An award-winning journalist and essayist, he has won the Lambda Literary Award, the Queer Horror Award, and the Randy Shilts Award for Nonfiction. Here are Michael's answers to his interview questions.

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

If I had to pick the character I most enjoyed writing, it would be Adeline Parr, the monstrous matriarch of the town of Parr’s Landing. Hands down. I’ve always had a soft spot for female monsters and anti-heroines. Women in horror have been so often depicted as victims in need of saving, particularly in traditional vampire fiction. I prefer them as powerful entities that can look after themselves, and then some.

There was something tremendously exhilarating about writing a character as emotionally carnivorous and all-powerful as Mrs. Parr—she says whatever terrible thing she wants to say, whenever she wants to say it. She wields her money and her power with equal ruthlessness and cruelty against her family and against the town.

She’s old gold mining money, and she has an almost feudal relationship with the town her family founded and named. She has no discernable moment of redemption, and by the end of the novel she’s only been transformed into the creature she really already was. 

She was an absolutely blast to write. Long before the actual vampires make their appearance in the novel, Adeline Parr is already the queen regnant of the monsters.

What's your favourite relationship between two characters in this book and why?

The relationship between the teenagers, Finn and Morgan, is my favourite of the relationships in the novel. There’s a great deal of the young me in Finn. Morgan is an amalgam of the teenage girls I knew at that age, and parts of the relationship mirror my relationship with a former babysitter, Nancy, whom I eventually came to regard as a big sister—a relationship, by the way, which continues to this day. When I was writing Enter, Night I was very conscious of that particular relationship and all its nuances. Of course, their relationship takes off in directions mine with Nancy never went, but there are echoes of it all throughout the book. 

A close second in the relationship department would, of course, be the relationship between Jem, who returns to Parr’s Landing as an adult gay man, and his first lover, Adrian, who is now a local cop. While Jem has chosen to live his life in the open, Adrian remains deeply closeted and full of self-loathing. The interpersonal dynamics in that relationship were surprisingly poignant to explore, particularly since they had loved each other as boys.

In Adrian’s case, that love was brutally snuffed out by Adeline Parr, who sent Jem away for reparative therapy and forced Adrian’s father to cruelly punish his own son. What struck me the most about that relationship was that even though it was set in 1973, the particular conflicts it presents still exist today in repressed pockets of North America and elsewhere.

What was the toughest scene to write in this book and why?

There is a scene midway through the book between Finn and his black Labrador, Sadie, which utterly gutted me. During the writing of Enter, Night my own Labrador, Harper, was living through what would be his last year. A great deal of my anxiety and anticipatory mourning went into that scene, and indeed manifested itself throughout the relationship between Finn and Sadie. That said, it was essential to the novel, and it had to be written exactly as it was. It’s quite unprecedented in vampire fiction and no one seems to have ambivalent feelings about it.

Aurora bundle spotlight: Martyrs

Martyrs coverNext up in my spotlight interview series on the current Aurora Award ebook bundle is Edo van Belkom talking about his horror novel, Martyrs, which was a finalist for the Aurora when it came out. Edo is a two-time Aurora winner and has also won the prestigious Bram Stoker Award. Here are his thoughts on Martyrs.

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

I'd have to say the hero, Karl Desbiens. He's got a bunch of problems to overcome like his crisis of faith and, of course, the evil force trying to wipe him out.

What's your favourite relationship between two characters in this book and why?

The bond between Karl Desbiens and Father Dionne is a good one. Having gone to high school with priests as my teachers, I wanted to make the two more like real people with everyday problems, not just the big one driving the novel forward.

What was the toughest scene to write in this book and why?

The toughest thing about writing this book was just making it believable. Classic horror in which evil forces are unleashed upon the Earth wasn't normally my thing, so I wanted to make the fantastic bits seem as real as I could make them. Contrary to what people might think, it's not easy convincing a reader that a possessed entity can still be alive and menacing with a caved-in skull.

What's your favourite scene in this book and why?

I think it's the ending. I've always found that with classic horror like this the story usually falls apart when the cause or the reason for the evil's existence has to be explained. I think I've walked that tightrope fairly well and set up an ending that is hopefully unexpected, plausible and satisfying.

Is there something in this book that you consider to be particularly Canadian or that Canadians would relate to or recognize in terms of sensibilities, world view, societal beliefs, etc.?

Well, the location and setting is absolutely Canadian. When I was in elementary school we traveled to the Jesuit settlement at Ste-Marie-Among-the-Hurons and were told how brave the priests were when their faith was challenged by the natives. Years later you grow up and start thinking for yourself, and you question why the Jesuits just couldn't co-exist and accept the natives as they were instead of trying to convert them to their own religion and ideology. Maybe in those terms it's more Canadian than just being set in Canada.

What was your biggest surprise in writing this book?

I think it was how the ending seemed to come together so seamlessly. I usually outline everything I write so there are no real surprises, but the last few chapters were satisfying in that I didn't have to shoehorn anything in to make it all work. Everything along the way had contributed just what it was supposed to and it was enjoyable to just sew all the loose ends together.

~~~

Thanks, Edo. I hope everyone following me will check out the Aurora Award bundle up at Storybundle now. But it won't be there long. The bundle ends August 9. Don't miss your chance to pick ten great Canadian speculative fiction books at a bargain price.

 

Aurora bundle spotlight: Second Contacts

Second Contacts coverHere's the next in my spotlight interviews on the authors, editors, and books in the current Aurora Award ebook bundle from Storybundle. Today's interview is with Mike Rimar of Bundoran Press talking about the Aurora winning anthology, Second Contacts.

Here are three questions and Mike's answers:

What is your strongest memory from editing this anthology / assembling this collection?

Second Contacts was the first anthology I edited. The theme was, First Contact has been made and the aliens have gone, but now they've come back some 25 years later. And…go…

It was a good theme, one that hasn't been explored too often, but I was concerned that we would get a whole bunch of Independence Day-like submissions where the aliens return seeking vengeance. Incredibly, and to my pleasure, we didn't get one like that. At least I don't remember reading one. What we did get was a diverse collection of amazing stories from around the world, taking our theme into all sorts of fantastic directions.

Is there something in these stories that you consider to be particularly Canadian or that Canadians would relate to or recognize in terms of sensibilities, world view, societal beliefs, etc.?

Speaking for myself, that's difficult to answer. Most of our anthology stories are written by Canadian authors. Canadian writers express a curious dichotomy of society and solitude; of technological progress, but mindful of environmental impacts; of justice and sacrifice but not at the cost of culture. While not distinctly Canadian, these themes are more prevalent in Canadian society because our nation is so culturally diverse. We're far from perfect. Mistakes have been made and more will be made. But we try to be a better people and that is reflected in these stories.

What music would be the ideal listening soundtrack for readers for this book?

Tragically Hip Discography.


The Hip. Of course. How quintessentially Canadian. Thanks, Mike, for the answers. Pick up the Aurora Award ebook bundle here to get Second Contacts and nine other titles, all award winners or finalists, for a great deal. The bundle runs only to August 9.

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