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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: 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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