It is another last minute convention posting for me because: deadlines… and other things.
This will be my first StokerCon and I’m super excited about it, so if you’re going to this amazing horror and literature convention—where they award the prestigious Stoker Awards—come and find me!
I will be splitting my non-panel time between the New England Horror Writers, where I and many other fine writers and friends of mine will be selling fabulous books, and the Broad Universe information table, where members will be signing books after their readings and the awesome Larissa Glasser and I will be there to answer questions about our beloved non-profit supporting women in horror.
Outside of those two places, here’s where I’ll be:
Reading with Cory Cone and Larry Hinkle. There will be chocolate—it is packed. Yes, I’m bribing you. This is the first reading slot of the convention. Please don’t let us be lonely? <3
Saturday, March 3; 2:00 PM; State Suite C – Fairy Tales: A Child’s First Taste of Horror
with Leslie Thomas (M), Edward Ahern, April Grey, Gwendolyn Kiste, and Charie LaMarr
A reader’s first encounter with horror often comes in the guide of fairy tales. Children’s stories and nursery rhymes are full of trolls, evil stepparents, witches, giants, and other terrifying characters. Our panelists will discuss these stories as the roots of horror, the brutality done to children in the tales, and the perpetrators. Where do these tales overlap with folk lore? And what do they say about society?
Saturday, March 3; 3:30…
I have a pitch session that I’m super excited about! Wish me luck!! <3
Saturday, March 3; 7:00 PM; Grand Ballroom – Bram Stoker Awards Banquet and Awards Ceremony
Saturday, March 3; 10:30 PM; L’Apogee – Bram Stoker Awards After Party Cocktail Reception
Sunday, March 4; 11:00 AM; Salon 2 – YA Horror – Something for Everyone
withJG Faherty,Elizabeth Massie, James Moore, and Daniel Waters
Interest in Young Adult horror is growing by leaps and bounds–and it’s not only for teens anymore. Join our panelists in a look at what makes YA horror so popular, why its popularity spans across age groups, and why the lines are so blurry between YA, new adult, and adult-oriented books.
There it is! It’s not as jam-packed as some conventions, but that’s okay because I’m looking forward to thoroughly enjoying myself by attending some panels and catching up with friends!
I love doing conventions, and I’m always really thrilled to return to the Arisia family each year!
And look… I am actually remembering to post my schedule so people can find me!
During hours I’m not on panels or giving workshops, there is an excellent chance you will find me at the Broad Universe table in the Dealer’s Room. I have books! It makes me super happy when people buy said books and ask for signatures. <3
So, outside of the Broad Universe table, here’s where you can find me THIS weekend at ARISIA!
Friday, January 12, 8:30 PM, Room 404 – Party Not Found? 2 (Electric Boogaloo)
I’m hosting the Broad Universe party at Arisia, and they put me in Room 404 again—and even a technophobe like me can make bad puns. Do find us and enjoy great food, great stories, and meet some awesome Broads!
Saturday, January 13, 10:00 AM, Adams – Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading
(I’m waking up early after throwing a party for y’all!) Come discover your new favorite writer as members of Broad Universe read short excerpts from their work. Each writer has just a few minutes to show you what she’s capable of! We offer chocolate and the chance to win prizes. Broad Universe is an international organization that supports women writers, editors, and publishers. NOTE: Not all authors may be in attendance for the entire time slot. Other members of Broad Universe not listed may be reading.
Saturday, January 13, 7:00 PM, Douglas – Rewriting Fairy Tales: Updating our Mythologies
(I’m moderating!) With anthologies such as _The Starlit Wood_, along with many authors choosing to rewrite and rework old fairy tales, what is the purpose of rewriting our myths, or writing new ones? What can we learn about ourselves when we bring these old stories into today? What is the purpose of creating new fairy tales?
Sunday, January 14, 11:30 AM, Bulfinch – Writing & Tarot
Last year we filled this up, so this year you gotta pre-sign up at PROGRAM NEXUS. In any case, I love teaching this hands-on workshop that talks about Tarot as both a tool for divination and a tool for your writing.
Sunday, January 14, 4:00 PM, Alcott – Tricks for Self-Editing
I’m thrilled to be giving this workshop again too, and this is another that fills up quickly, so pre-sign up at PROGRAM NEXUS. Why should you sign-up and come to this workshop? I’ve edited over 50 books for multiple publishing houses; I teach writing and editing; and I put a lot of effort into not making people cry. And what I can teach you will make you a better writer because most of writing is editing.
Sunday, January 14, 7:00 PM, Independence – Everything But the Writing
This is Trisha’s killing the workshops year at Arisia! And it’s another one you should pre-sign up for at PROGRAM NEXUS. I’ve been in business as “A Novel Friend” since 2003—and I have the tax forms to prove it. This is a look at the business side of making a career as a writer or editor, whether you want to stick to fiction or branch out into journalism, non-fiction, or “other” realms.
I also write poetry! And so do a bunch of other awesome folks. Do you? Join us or come listen. If you want to read, come early to sign up for a slot.
Monday, January 15, 1:00 PM, Alcott – How to Train Your Dragon & Other Writing Issues
(Because animal stories! And as an editor, I have been known to leave…detailed…comments on misuse of animals in Track Changes.) Whether you’re writing horses and dragons in a medieval setting, or having your space hero(ine) bond with a psychic cat or flying banshee, incorporating animals into your fiction requires knowledge of how real-life animals act. Our panel of experts will discuss how to write real and unreal animals, what they eat, how often they need to rest, how they act around humans, other animals and machinery; and other interesting tidbits which can bring your sci-fantasy stories to life.
I’m happy to share the cover release of my friend and sister Broad, Terri Bruce on my blog today!
Terri is an amazing woman and an amazing writer, so look forward to when you can get your hands on this book! … And if you haven’t read the first in this series, Hereafter, you need to do that. Like now!
Without further ado, here is the GORGEOUS cover for Thereafter.
Now that you’ve seen the contest and the pretty, here are all the details to further make you want this book! Besides a medieval Spanish knight AND a cowboy!!!!
Genre: Contemporary fantasy/paranormal
Publisher: Mictlan Press
Date of Publication: May 1, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-9913036-2-5 (print) /
ISBN: 978-0-9913036-3-2 (ebook)
Number of pages: 318
Word Count: 99,000
Cover Artist: Artwork by Shelby Robinson; cover layout by Jennifer Stolzer
When recently-deceased Irene Dunphy decided to “follow the light,” she thought she’d end up in Heaven or Hell and her journey would be over.
Boy, was she wrong.
She soon finds that “the other side” isn’t a final destination but a kind of purgatory where billions of spirits are stuck, with no way to move forward or back. Even worse, deranged phantoms known as “Hungry Ghosts” stalk the dead, intent on destroying them. The only way out is for Irene to forget her life on earth—including the boy who risked everything to help her cross over—which she’s not about to do.
As Irene desperately searches for an alternative, help unexpectedly comes in the unlikeliest of forms: a twelfth-century Spanish knight and a nineteenth-century American cowboy. Even more surprising, one offers a chance for redemption; the other, love. Unfortunately, she won’t be able to have either if she can’t find a way to escape the hellish limbo where they’re all trapped.
I am THRILLED beyond all measure to finally be able to bring you Thereafter, and I want to thank all the fans who have waited (more or less patiently) an extra year for this book to finally come out. Thereafter would not have been possible without your support—thank you all! I hope you love this beautiful new cover as much as I do, and I hope you find Thereafter to be worth the wait.
Her hand touched a rock, one of the flat beach stones she’d seen on graves. She picked it up, laying it flat in her palm. She didn’t remember picking this up. In fact, she had been careful not to take any. It had seemed disrespectful and too much like stealing to remove them, and while she’d seen a few here—both loose and piled in cairns—she hadn’t picked any of them up. There had been no point. What would she do with a rock?
No wonder her bag was so heavy.
She tossed the rock over her shoulder and heard it hit the ground with a satisfying thud some distance away. It felt good to be rid of something, to make a decision and be sure it was the right one.
She surveyed the pile again and then grabbed a small handful of paper animals. She picked one up between a finger and thumb. It was a horse. Irene had been in Chinatown during Chinese Ghost Festival, a holiday in which the living left offerings for the dead. These offerings included paper replicas of things people thought the dead would need in the afterlife—money, clothes, television sets, and even animals. Irene had admired the precise and delicate folds of the Origami figures and had picked some up to admire them more closely. Without thinking, she had dropped them into her bag and apparently been carrying them ever since.
Well, even Jonah couldn’t argue with her on this—there was no way she was going to need a paper horse on her journey through the afterlife. Plus, these didn’t hold any sentimental value. She cast the horse onto a nearby fire and watched as the paper curled and blackened in the low-burning flames.
The fire leapt and seemed to glow blue for a moment. Irene tensed—what was happening?
Thick black smoke began to rise slowly from the flames, spiraling upward in a thickening column. The smoke grew denser and then elongated sideways. Irene leapt to her feet and backed away, her heart pounding. Something was forming in the fire.
The smoke was taking shape now; there was purpose and design in its movements. She could see a long, horizontal back, four legs, a neck, and finally a head and a tail. The smoke swirled with a final flourish and then shuddered into the solidity of a smoke-colored horse. The animal blinked passively. Then it violently shook its head, blew out a breath, and delicately picked its way forward out of the fire. It immediately put its head down and began to lip the ground, looking for food.
Irene stared stupidly at it. “Are you shitting me?”
About the Author:
Terri Bruce has been making up adventure stories for as long as she can remember. Like Anne Shirley, she prefers to make people cry rather than laugh, but is happy if she can do either. She produces fantasy and adventure stories from a haunted house in New England where she lives with her husband and three cats.
Elizabeth Black is a Broad I’ve met more recently than the other women on this tour, but I’m so glad to know her now. And I am such a sucker for haunted house stories! I sooo want to go here!
I Stayed At A Haunted Bed And Breakfast. Twice.
By Elizabeth Black
Yup, I was foolish enough to stay at a haunted bed and breakfast – twice. This B&B dates back to the Revolutionary War, and it sits on a river. I had heard about it from one of my ex’s friends, and after much planning I finally stayed there when I was in town for a theater stage crew convention.
The story behind the haunting is as follows:
British soldiers came up the river and proceeded to set the small town on fire, destroying most of it. Soldiers threw torches on the porch of this B&B, which was originally a brothel. The proprietress swept the torches off the porch with her broom. She made a deal with the soldiers. She would house them, feed them, and allow them to use her services as long as they didn’t burn the place down. They agreed, and this B&B was allowed to stand whilst homes around it burned to the ground. The haunting involves the ghost of the proprietress wandering the halls in the dead of night, checking on her clientele and the women to make sure everyone was comfortable. There have been other sightings as well. The B&B itself is absolutely beautiful, decorated in Victorian splendor. It includes a lovely bar and discounted dinners every Friday night. The rooms are beautiful, spacious, and very homey in that Victorian style I liked very much.
The first time I stayed it was off-season in mid-winter. I was in a room overlooking the river. What a view! I enjoyed a delicious meal and the company of a man I met in the bar. He came to the B&B several times per month to enjoy dinner when in town on business. No, I did not take him to bed, although he was very handsome. We ate dinner together. That night I slept well until about 3 am when I heard a party going on in the room next to me. There was a lot of noise. I managed to go back to sleep. At about 4:30 am I heard heavy footsteps walking up and down the hallway. I immediately thought of the ghost of the proprietress stalking the halls checking on everyone and went back to sleep. I wondered whys she wore combat boots, since her footsteps were very loud and heavy. I felt very safe, secure, and comfortable. Not the least bit scared.
The next day, when I went down for breakfast, I told the clerk about the party and the footsteps. She told me I couldn’t have heard anything because I had been alone in the building all night. Yeeeahhh!!!!! The party! The footsteps! None of it could have happened!!!
Of course, I had to return. 🙂
The second time I stayed I was with my current husband. While we slept, someone turned on the overhead light in the middle of the night. I was a very light sleeper and I snapped awake the moment the light turned on. My husband snored away next to me. I was far too tired to get up and turn off the light, so I went back to sleep. When I woke up shortly before dawn, the light was off. I asked my husband later about the light and he said he had turned it off before going to bed. He didn’t get up during the night at all.
So who turned on the light? And who later turned it off?
I heard those footsteps in the hallway again, and felt as safe as I did the first time. No party this time, though. At least this time there were other guests in the place. I wasn’t alone in the building again.
So there you have it. I had my own ghostly experiences. Granted, I think there were perfectly natural explanations for what I heard. The kitchen was downstairs right off my room and noise from clean-up could have carried up the stairs. I could have mistaken those noises for a party. It’s also likely my husband simply forgot he didn’t turn off the overhead light. But I like to think I had ghostly experiences both times I stayed.
Happy Halloween, everyone!
My stay at the Kitty Knight House influenced my erotic romance novel “An Unexpected Guest”. Here are buy links and an information page.
Here’s where to find me on the web. Friend me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and check out my books! I’ve included my Amazon author pages for both of my pen names, so whether you’re into sexy or spooky, I have stories for you!
I’m honored to have our own Hostess with the Mostest who put this blog together, LC Hu, for today’s post! 🙂 And I’m also extremely pleased with this article on vampires because for a long time, I shared her disdain of these particular monsters. I love how she refound the spark of horror.
Revamping the Vampire, by LC Hu
Happy almost-Halloween, everyone!
A quick shout out to Trisha for hosting me! It’s great to be here.
Today, I want to talk about revisiting a classic Halloween monster–the vampire–twice, and what it means to me to reimagine a subject.
We’ve all heard the old adage “There’s nothing new under the sun.” (Or the stars, in a vampire’s case.) And it’s true–it’s hard , if not impossible, to come up with something completely new; even if you think of something that’s pretty original, odds are good that someone else has thought of it too. There’s a lot of people pondering a lot of subjects out there.
So for me breathing fresh life into something old is more about adding a personal touch. Finding what unsettles me, or interests me, and adding that little bit to the existing monster. And hitting a common note is just fine–wanted, perhaps, because it will help my audience connect.
In recent work I’ve revisited the vampire twice. I find this a little funny–since outgrowing my Anne Rice and Poppy Z Brite phase, I’ve carried around a little bit of hipsteresque disdain for the befanged blood drinker. But for the Re-Vamp project, we were doing a tour of all the old, classic, monsters, so I was obligated to revisit the subject. And for Midnight Carnival shared world project, part of why I tackled a vampire was precisely my disdain; it seemed like a personal challenge, to make this overdone monster interesting to me again.
Re-Vamp was all about trying to bring the classic into the current, to be both nostalgic and contemporary at once, so for the vampire in my short story “Lump,” I read a lot about the origins of the vampire. I decided to go with the elements that disturbed me: the corpse-like pallor, the distended/bloated belly, elements that hearkened back to people being frightened of decomposing corpses. Decay and rot are unsettling to a lot of people. For the contemporary angle, I used situation and location–by the side of the highway, the dark woods, the quandary of helping someone (or something) injured by the side of the road, or leaving it out of fear.
Being a shared, established world, The Midnight Carnival had established certain rules for vampires already, so I only had so much room to work with: they could be wounded or killed by holy water, fire, sunlight, silver; they were made, not born; they live on blood; they are stronger and faster than humans, and able to heal quickly. So it became the little things about my individual vampire, Carver, that I played with to make him interesting to me. I tried to imagine how a vampire like that might blend into the human world best, become the wolf in sheep’s clothing as best as possible. What biological alterations the transformation would cause, and what neurochemical or other personality-influencing changes.
His teeth, for example: they are all sharp, like a dog or cat’s teeth, even the molars. The canines are longer, the front teeth more flattened/bladelike, but they are not the two puncturing canines of the classic movie vampire. They also retract. The human set and the vampire set are interchangeable, sliding back into the gums, one set replacing the other. Or his breathing–Carver breathes so he can speak, because I liked the physicality of it, the little obedience to the real world, that you must have air in your lungs and expend it to speak. It’s also good camouflage, when you’re pretending to be human.
And I mentioned mental changes too–it’s not clear, in the MC world, if it’s a demonic soul outsting a human one to cause the vampiric change, or a virus, or something else, so I went with it being more physical, including alterations to the brain and brain chemistry. Once upon a time Carver was a very good, upstanding man, a detective with a beloved wife and two beloved daughters, and I started thinking about what kind of a vampire a man like that would become, if you took away his regret and a large part of his empathy and handed him a ravenous, unending appetite for blood.
…I could go on all day. Suffice to say, I interested myself in this old, reliable monster again, and had good fun with it too. In the end, I think that’s all it takes to breathe a little new life into the old–have fun with it, go crazy, let yourself break rules or obey them, just learn to enjoy the monster–or whatever subject matter you’re revisiting–again.
Justine Graykin‘s second post in this tour tickles me to no end. I’ve been a fan of her Archimedes Nesselrode since she started reading excerpts from it at Rapid Fire Readings years ago. It was an audio book first, and I just don’t do audio books. So, when she finally, finally, finally had a huggable book published, I did, indeed, drive all the way up to her release party in New Hampshire so I could immediately hug my own copy. Squee!
An Excerpt from Archimedes Nesselrode by Justine Graykin
Archimedes Nesselrode, my newly-released novel from Double Dragon, is mostly gentle and whimsical, a tale of an artist with strange and wonderful creative powers. But these powers also have a dark and frightful side, one which even the artist himself fears.
In honor of the this shiversome season, I offer to the readers of my dear friend Trisha’s blog an excerpt from the book in keeping with that spirit of darkness.
We join the artist and his devoted housekeeper attempting to escape from the vengeful anger of Zarah Trebbiano, the operatic diva whose advances Mr. Nesselrode has rejected.
“Get in the car, Mr. Nesselrode,” Ms. Mare said firmly, “I shall handle this.”
“Oh, yes, get into the car, Michel!” the singer mocked. “Do as your woman servant says! Spineless worm! That is all you are! Gutless and spineless!”
“That will be enough!” Ms. Mare snapped in an imperiously commanding tone that any school mistress would have envied. “You will leave immediately and do not dare attempt to contact Mr. Nesselrode again in any way!”
“Call off your dog, Michel,” Madam Trebbiano said, “her yapping annoys me.”
“You are a crude, ill-bred woman who ought to be ashamed of herself, but is too arrogant to realize it! Now, good night to you!” Ms. Mare turned on her heel to go. Her employer had still not moved.
“Ill-bred?” the singer cried. “This from an illegitimate brat of the serving class! Oh, yes, I know who you are! You’re the housekeeper, aren’t you? Do you think to improve your position by coddling your master? A bit of advice to you–don’t attempt to bed him! He is a passionless, impotent fish!”
“How dare you?” Ms. Mare cried in outrage.
“Can’t you say anything, Michel? No, you pathetic, sniveling poseur! I should never have wasted my time with you! You are not a man at all!”
“That will be enough!” Ms. Mare commanded, uncomfortably aware that they were beginning to attract a crowd. “Mr. Nesselrode, get into the car. We are leaving!”
“Go on, Michel! Run with your tail between your legs! That’s all you’ve got down there! Go home with your faithful dog! Perhaps you can reward her with a few limp-wristed caresses! Or do you prefer little boys?”
“Zarah, shut up!”
The transformation of Archimedes Nesselrode from rabbit to wild-eyed fury was sudden and astonishing. He spun around to face her and his voice rose into a screech. “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!”
Madam Trebbiano was shocked speechless, taking a step away from him. Ms. Mare was frozen, her mouth open. She had seen him annoyed, fretful, peevish and irritated. She had never seen this. His eyes blazed with madness, but not the gentle, harmless madness she was accustomed to. His face was twisted horribly and malignantly. The winged snake flew up into the air with alarm and darted over to Ms. Mare, coiling about her legs and cringing, afraid of her own master.
“You summon great passion in me, Zarah! Oh, yes! You inspire me with wild emotion!” He laughed, but it was a fearful, maniacal sound. “You are fascinated by my magic, eh? I’ll give you a demonstration! See what I create in your honor!” He held out his hands. To Ms. Mare’s horror they were dripping with scorpions. If there was any creature which inspired greater loathing in her than spiders, it was scorpions.
Madam Trebbiano’s expression showed much the same sentiment. She was grimacing in revulsion. Archimedes Nesselrode, quite monstrously insane, walked towards her. “Embrace me, Zarah! I’m all yours!”
“Get away from me!” she cried, backing away. But she found her retreat blocked. They were no longer standing on a city sidewalk. Archimedes Nesselrode had conjured a chamber of horrors.
The stone walls that enclosed them slanted at bizarre angles and intersected with unbearable asymmetry. The seams where the stone blocks met were cracked and seeping with fungoid slime. From the slime bubbled shapeless things which crawled and dripped to the crazily tilting floor. The ceiling was thickly hung with sticky webs which seethed with black legs and bloated bodies.
“Gifts for you, Zarah!” he shrieked, his voice cracked and shaking, “From the bottom of my heart!” He threw the scorpions at her, and began to laugh hideously. He became swathed in robes of black and scarlet, and from beneath the folds of the robe erupted monstrosities, deformed and hideous. Writhing hunks of severed flesh, embedded with eyes, oozing like open wounds, they flopped and crawled around him. Zarah Trebbiano screamed and clawed helplessly at the venomous creatures that clung to her, stinging her repeatedly.
Stunned with horror, Vivian Mare stared, unable to believe that her timid, sweet employer could have so suddenly mutated into this terrible monster. It took an act of strongest will power to break the paralyzing spell.
“Snake, for pity’s sake, let go of me!”
My thanks to Trisha Wooldridge for her gracious hospitality. Archimedes Nesselrode is available as a paperback through Amazon and as an ebook though most major distributors. You may learn more about this and my humble self on my website, at justinegraykin.com
About the Author:
Justine Graykin is a writer and free-lance philosopher sustained by her deep, abiding faith in Science, Humanity and the belief that humor is the best anti-gravity device. Author of Archimedes Nesselrode, a book written for adults who are weary of adult books, she is producer of the BroadPod podcast. She lives, writes and putters around her home in rural New Hampshire, occasionally disappearing into the White Mountains with a backpack.
I’m thrilled my first post is from Vonnie Winslow Crist, a woman after my own heart when it comes to faery tales and folklore. I just love her post here!
Ogerhunches and other Goblins by Vonnie Winslow Crist
Goblins are dark Faeryfolk often associated with Halloween. They appear in fantasy literature and film from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Hobbit and Lord of the Rings to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter to scary nursery rhymes like Little Orphan Annie by James Whitcomb Riley. And there are so many terrifying varieties of goblins that a Red-cap, Bogy, Padfoot, Barguest, Tankerabogus, Grindee, or Ogerhunch could be hiding under your stairs this very minute!
Not all goblins are as fearsome as Red-caps who wear hats died crimson in the blood of their victims. Nor as frightening as a Bogy who is known to follow people around calling out, “I want my bones.” Nor as unnerving as a Padfoot who walks behind an unsuspecting person, then runs up to his side and roars. Nor as scary as a Barguest with its horns, teeth, claws, and fiery eyes. Nor as dreadful as a Tankerabogus who comes and carries naughty children away to its pit-hole. Some goblins are actually more terrifying!
When I wanted to add goblins to my Young Adult fantasy adventure novel, The Enchanted Skean, I had to decide what my goblins would be called and what they’d look like. Plus, I wanted to give them characteristics which would make them repulsive and fascinating at the same time.
The first type of goblin I created are Grindees. They’re smallish nocturnal goblins that travel in swarms of 20 to 30 individuals. Grindees chase down travelers, devour both animals and humans, then steal whatever valuables they possessed. They have glowing orange eyes, mottled skin, elongated fingers, multiple horns, and wide mouths filled with razor-sharp teeth. Able to speak in a hissing, lispy manner, Grindees are happy to let a person know just how much they despise humans – just before they bite them.
When it came to creating the second type of goblin for The Enchanted Skean, I decided to find an archaic word for a frightening creature. One of the fabulous words I found in Jeffery Kacirk’s The Word Museum was Ogerhunch. According to Kacirk an Ogerhunch is “Any frightful or loathsome creature, especially a bat.” Well, I’m a fan of bats, so I decided to make my Ogerhunches goblins that looked like forest debris and stumps. A horde of Hunches will sneak up unnoticed, knock their victims to the ground with their branch-like limbs, then suck their juices out with their rootlets. Luckily for the protagonist in my novel, Ogerhunches aren’t especially smart and they’re afraid of fire.
In the sequel to The Enchanted Skean, Grindee and Ogerhunches are sure to appear. The trick will be to add an even more devious goblin to the mix.
So this Halloween when your doorbell rings and you open your door to trick-or-treaters, keep your eyes peeled for goblins. It’s easy to separate them from the neighborhood kids – their ugly faces aren’t masks and they don’t come off with make-up remover. And remember “you better mind your parents and your teachers fond and dear, and cherish them that loves ya, and dry the orphans tears and help the poor and needy ones that cluster all about, or the goblins will get ya if ya don’t watch out!”
About the guest writer: Vonnie Winslow Crist is author of a YA fantasy novel, The Enchanted Skean, 2 speculative story collections, The Greener Forest and Owl Light, and other books. A firm believer that the world around us is filled with mystery, miracles, and magic, Vonnie celebrates the power of myth in her writing.
A few years ago, at the Broad Universe / Spencer Hill Press table at the very first Anthocon, this sweet young woman wandered over. There was chemistry between the bunch of us right away and the group of us table folk absconded with the lovely Kendra L. Saunders for dinner, got her to join Broad Universe, and all promptly bought copies of her first novel, Inanimate Objects, which is a beautiful story of art and immortality in the vein (there’s a pun there…) of The Great Gatsby. Trust me, you’ll love it!
Then she wrote an entirely different styled book, Death and Mr. Right, which I (and the rest of my friends) also fell in love with. For entirely different reasons. In the humorous style of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, Death and Mr. Right is a romp through Boston and beyond with the diva-like Death (recently-made-former agent of nightmares) as he tries to get back his job, the list of the names of the damned that he lost (oops!), and above all, not fall in love.
As you might imagine, things aren’t going so well…
Kendra is an awesome person, and she is kindly sharing her awesomeness on my blog with an interview!! Why? Because Death and Mr. Right is now available for you to love and laugh milk out your nose over, too!
Thanks for stopping by, Kendra!
Oh, thank you so much for having me! And I just wanted to say- thank you so much for The Great Gatsby mention. That’s one of my favorite books.
What kind of research went into writing Death and Mr. Right? What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?
While writing Death and Mr. Right, my friend Megan took me to Boston for a full day of exploration and research! We wandered Newbury Street and some of the popular spots, then down by the swan boats, which I guess a lot of people think are really pretty. I found them to be extremely depressing, haha. The most beautiful spot in Boston is the Church of Science, across the street from the Prudential Center. We found it by accident, because it started raining and we made a dash for cover… the reflecting pool in front of the Church of Science is just breathtaking, though, even in the rain. You feel like you’ve teleported to Italy or something. If Death and Mr. Right becomes a huge cult hit, I want to offer tours of the major locations in the book, and that would be the most important one. I took a lot of pictures of it, which can be found on my facebook page!
Also, during my research, I found out that Pandora’s “Box” was actually a jar! That was a cool fact that I had no idea about previously.
You also have a passion for fashion, which definitely seems to find its way into your work. As the person who is constantly getting notes from her critique group that she adds too much horsey stuff–but generally isn’t into fashion at all–I’m curious how you are able to let in just enough of your passion into your writing without overwhelming–and while making it interesting for those of us who normally don’t think about fashion? 🙂
The newest book, The Unlove Spell, has maybe the most of it, because Marling lives in New York City, her friend Kyran is a fashion label obsessed metrosexual and Viktor Arson is a total babe, so we usually hear about what he’s wearing. In one part, Kyran says something about standing outside of an Alexander McQueen store and feeling too afraid to walk inside, lest he burst into flames of unworthiness. So there was lots of designer label talk in that one.
I have had the extraordinary privilege to meet a lot of designers that I really admire and have conversations with them in interviews or just while hanging out, and have learned so much. For my freelance work, I talk a lot about fashion (in interviews and articles) and I’ve been an InStyle subscriber for ten years! So it’s very possible that my projects in the future will have more and more of a fashion theme, but generally I try to describe in humorous ways, usually, or with a very light hand. That being said, I recently wrote a short story inspired by one of Zac Posen’s photos on instagram, about a designer, and I’ve been inspired for several pieces by fashion, models, and designers. Music and fashion are my greatest inspirations!
What is your favorite part of being a writer? Of the whole writing and publishing process? What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?
Definitely for me, writing is a way of processing things that have happened to me. Maybe someone was really cruel and I couldn’t react at the time (I’m a slow reactor and very bad at confrontation), so I process it in fiction. Maybe I met a stranger who was intriguing but disappeared from the fabric of my life… I can bring them to life in fiction. Maybe someone is dancing around the edges of my life… I can get to know them through fiction. Maybe there’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit (England, Austria, etc)… fiction is a transportation device. And if I miss a place, a person, a feeling, I can resurrect it in writing. Truly, writing is the best and cheapest way to live a thousand lives.
Also, getting to travel in the name of research and promotion is great. I’ve had wanderlust all my life and this is the perfect job to allow for that.
What does your writing space look like? What do you need to have around you while writing or editing?
My writing space changes from day to day but my favorite place to write is at the Concord, NH Starbucks. I’ve written most of THREE novels there (and even dedicated Death and Mr. Right to them!) I like to have a latte (no sugar) and a cup of water at the table with me. My doctor made me promise to cut back on caffeine, but the smell of espresso is just magical! I have to have headphones so I can retreat into my mental writing cave. Spotify has become my best friend… it’s an online music database that allows you to listen to whole albums or playlists that you create, for free. It’s great because the artists don’t lose money and you don’t have to pay to listen to new albums. I have a playlist for every major project I’m working on, as well as a “soothing” one, a “love” one, a “girl power” one and lots of others! Plus with spotify, you can receive suggestions from other spotify users. Fabio Costa (Project Runway contestant and co-owner of NotEqual) is one of my favorite people to get suggestions from. He has great taste in music and we can nerd out over indie albums together. Feel free to find my playlists and check them out, and be sure to check his out too!
If I’m home, I like to sit in my room surrounded by my stuffed animals. Because I’m a grown up.
What is one thing that most people don’t realize about you?
Well, most people don’t realize I have an embarrassingly extensive knowledge of Sting’s discography. Not even a joke! I have all of his albums up until the lute one, and even some singles. And I have “Soul Cages” on vinyl, thanks to my friend Isaac. I’ve also seen a couple of his movies- The Bride (which I told the Nostalgia Critic he should review) and Brimstone and Treacle. And yes, I own his books too. He’s been a major creative influence on my writing and life. The lyrics from “Soul Cages” are just surreal masterpieces to me. He’s a master storyteller.
Also, Andrew Bird wore the scarf I made for him in a music video with Margaret Cho. Look it up! So cool!
What has been your favorite adventure during your writing career?
Oh, there have been so many of them! But my greatest was definitely going to New York City in May of this year for BEA, staying at the hip Jane Hotel with my sister, getting dressed up in my gorgeous Dmitry Sholokhov dress and high heels, attending a fancy breakfast as a guest author, taking a taxi to the Javit’s Center, signing review copies of Death and Mr. Right to tons of strangers and familiar faces alike, and Dmitry joining me at the event as my guest. It was amazing! We chatted and caught up a little after he arrived and I met his lovely friend Anastasiya, and then we posed behind the Spencer Hill table and suddenly there was a whole row of people standing in front of us with cameras. I’ve never seen so many cameras in my life! It was a surreal experience. Even Dmitry commented that it was a lot of camera flashes. I felt like a princess or something! Later that evening, my sister and three of my best girlfriends got together with me back at the Jane Hotel for drinks and conversation, and then my dear friend Megan and I took a late-night walk along the waterfront. To have so many wonderful people with me for that event was a beautiful experience. And Dmitry has been such an inspiration for me, both as an artist with a lot of ambition and big dreams and good sense of humor, and also because he was the muse for Viktor Arson in “The Unlove Spell.” It was the most magical day of my life! (If you don’t know about his work, you should look him up on twitter and instagram, both of which are @dmitrysholokhov )
Now that we have had a taste of your awesomeness, what are the deets about your book so we can all buy it? (ISBN, where to buy it, etc.)
Death and Mr. Right drops October 1st. It will be for sale in most Barnes & Noble stores, on amazon and worldwide at bookdepository.com. There are many things you can do to make this funky little book into an indie success. You can call or visit your local bookstore and ask them to order a copy of the book, you can tweet me ( @kendrybird ) with the hashtag #deathandmrright , you can take a picture of yourself with the book and tweet it or instagram it with the #deathandmrright tag… I’m going to feature the pictures on my site, along with a link of your choice, if you’d like. So hit me up!
You’ve got a very active life in social media, and you promote your work in a lot of untraditional ways. What advice can you offer other authors who are looking to help promote their books and are trying to get online more?
Choose two social media platforms that you really like and concentrate on those. Some people try to do it all- facebook, twitter, instagram, blog, pinterest, tumblr, whatever… it gets to be a burden, especially if you’re new to it. I suggest you use two that you really like, and use one more for personal contacts and one more for ‘fans.’ Facebook is great for personal contacts and twitter is great for fans. With facebook, you have more of a human connection, but you also have the gatekeeper of adding people as your ‘friend.’ With twitter, you speak and anyone in the world can listen. Post about what makes your life unique. Fans and followers want to see things they can’t see in their own lives, like places you’ve traveled, cool people you’ve met or whatever else. Also, don’t be afraid to tweet people you admire. Everyone is so connected now, and there’s comfort in that, even for someone ‘on top.’ I’ve interacted with Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Ross, Tom Hiddleston and many other of my personal heroes on twitter. So don’t be afraid to try talking to one of your heroes!
Speaking of your active online life, how can fans (un-creeper-like) stalk you to find out what you’re up to and what else they can possibly give you money for? 🙂
I LOVE to hear from everyone! My twitter handle is @kendrybird and I’m on instagram @kendralsaunders and update my website regularly http://www.kendralsaunders.com In addition, the radio interviews I do go up on my youtube channel after they air. I’ve interviewed Dmitry Sholokhov, Michelle Lesniak Franklin, Fabio Costa, Melissa Fleis, Miranda Levy.. you can hear those on my youtube channel! http://www.youtube.com/KendraLSaunders I also upload video journals there from my travels. Recent ones include my trip to NYC for Death and Mr. Right’s signing at BEA, and my adventures at NYFW!
What are you working on now, and what other projects can we look for from you in the near future?
I’ve recently finished writing The Unlove Spell, which is probably my favorite thing I’ve ever written. It’s about a young witch named Marling, who lives in New York City and isn’t very good at magic. She tries to put an unlove spell on her former lover, sexy Russian writer Viktor Arson, to keep him from falling in love with anyone else, but she accidentally puts it on herself instead. The story begins five years later, when their paths cross again and she finds out Viktor’s family are actually fae royalty. The fae and witches have a long, ugly history, and Marling has to decide… does she really love him, or is that just the unlove spell she placed on herself?
It’s a comedy and it’s fun and it’s set in New York City. It’s currently with my very favorite agent, so my fingers are crossed!
I’m also mostly finished with a poetry and short story collection about these two people who are never quite right for each other, but they keep crossing paths in different lives and realities. It’s really melancholy and I’m excited about the idea of sharing it with the world!
Once again, thank you so much for stopping by my blog, Kendra! It’s always a blast to hang out with you!
Thank you so much, Trish! You’re amazing, and I have so much respect and love for you!
I’ve known E. C. for several years through conventions, Broad Universe, and online chatting–and she’s an amazing resource on medieval history–which she beautifully works into her novel. Because I am such a history buff, I was thrilled at the chance to pick her brain at all this cool info!
Let’s start with a little blurb about the book, Elisha Barber.
England in the fourteenth century: a land of poverty and opulence, prayer and plague, witchcraft and necromancy. Where the medieval barber-surgeon Elisha seeks redemption as a medic on the front lines of an unjust war, and is drawn into the perilous world of sorcery by a beautiful young witch. In the crucible of combat, at the mercy of his capricious superiors, Elisha must unravel conspiracies both magical and mundane, as well as come to terms with his own disturbing new abilities. But the only things more dangerous than the questions he’s asking are the answers he may reveal…
I’d really love to hear about the research you did to make Elisha’s knowledge as a barber surgeon real. What drew you to this profession?
When I started out, I only need to know a little more about medieval medicine for a scene in another novel, but what I found was fascinating to me. It was another way of viewing the European Middle Ages, a popular setting for fantasy, that would allow me access to all levels of society, and also engage with characters in a more intimate way. Medical treatment and the need for it create great vulnerabilities, openings into the spirit as well as the body. Medieval medicine was fragmented by philosophies handed down from Greek and Roman sources, by the demands of religion, and by social class—it’s rich territory for fiction.
I wanted to write about a less traditional fantasy hero. We’re used to reading about knights, princesses, remarkable children—Elisha is a mid-career adult, respected in his sphere of influence. He works among the poor and desperate of London’s lesser neighborhoods: prostitutes, carters, laborers, for whom he’s the best medical care they can afford. When he’s forced to the front, he finds himself serving beneath the full weight of the medieval hierarchy: a surgeon who manages the hospital and works with knights and lesser nobility, a physician who advises only at the highest level, yet insists on supervising Elisha’s work, and all of the political layers outside of medicine—the warriors, royalty, lords and ladies who are the more usual denizens of the fantasy novel, and to whom the barber surgeon is beneath contempt.
Where did you go for this level of research?
I started with some general resources, like Medicine: an Illustrated History, which grounded me in a broad understanding of the period. I moved down through the books that would take me closer to the source, specialized compendia of knowledge like The History of Magic and Experimental Science. From there, I took note especially of any primary sources I could study. That lead me to Galen, the first-century physician who developed the hugely influential theory of the four humors, and to medieval practitioners like Ambroise Pare, a French barber-surgeon, or Guy de Chauliac, surgeon and personal physician to Pope Clement VI. Any time I could, I read works written by the practitioners, or by their contemporaries and patients. I was a bit stymied in this area because I never learned to read Latin!
I also had the chance to visit some specialty museums of medicine, or to locate exhibits about medicine within larger collections in places like the Museum of The City of London. Lately, I’ve been accumulating a collection of period-style surgical tools I can bring to signings and readings to illustrate the research.
What were some of the more amazing, gross, crazy things you found out?
One of the popes died of a surfeit of emeralds, which he was eating at the recommendation of his physician in order to cure a humoral imbalance. That’s pretty crazy! They believed that all material things had properties—hot, cold, wet, and dry—which related to the humors, so when a cure could not be effected by bleeding the patient, say, because the wrong astrological sign was ascendant at that time, the patient could also be fed a diet meant to balance these properties.
What are some interesting facts you learned but that didn’t make it into this book…or the series? 🙂
I haven’t written much about disease as opposed to wound healing or individual ailments—as of yet. But in the 14th century there were three modes by which disease was believed to be transmitted: breath, skin (touching) and gaze. This includes the notion that a young woman without a husband or a calling to God might emit a certain poison affecting those around her. The so-called “maleficent gaze of the venomous virgin.” Still want to use that. . . but I haven’t quite found the place for it!
Where should readers go to learn more about the book?
E. C. Ambrose wrote Elisha Barber and the rest of “The Dark Apostle” historical fantasy series from DAW books. Published works include “The Romance of Ruins” in Clarkesworld, and “Custom of the Sea,” winner of the Tenebris Press Flash Fiction Contest 2012. In addition to writing, the author works as an adventure guide. Past occupations include founding a wholesale business, selecting stamps for a philatelic company, selling equestrian equipment, and portraying the Easter Bunny on weekends.
As many might know, I’m the current president of Broad Universe, an international non-profit dedicated to promoting, celebrating, and honoring women who produce (write, make art, etc.) science fiction, fantasy, horror, and everything in between!
I love Broad Universe – obviously. Seriously, I would not be where I am as a writer and editor were it not for the connections I’ve made in the organization.
One of the things that I’ve had the joy of seeing in my time on the Motherboard is the growth of the organization, particularly of chapters. Granted, the fastest growing chapter is the one local to me – the New England (or really, Northeast since we include some New Yorkers) chapter.
So, let me use this blog post to share some of the awesome things that are going around in my area thanks to the New England Broads!