Award nomination season is upon us and I’ve had things published this year that I’m really proud of. I’d be honoured if anyone were to consider my work for nomination. I am also in my first year of elibigility for the Campbell Award.
So, with less self-deprecation than in the past couple of years, here are my award-eligible works for 2016:
(eligible for the Hugos, Nebulas and World Fantasy)
“The City Beneath the Sea” (c. 1,100 words)
Published in the anthology An Alphabet of Embers, edited by Rose Lemberg. This is a story on the borders of dream and waking. “They say it appears when the stars shift up right, shuffle into a straight line in their slow dance. And here we are, waiting.”
“Water, Birch, and Blood” (c. 4,100 words)
Published in Strange Horizons, the special issue Our Queer Planet. This was inspired by summers spent in Finnish summer cottages, and wondering what happens to the children who save magical worlds and get sent back home. “Crows, their granite grey and black wings beating victory into the air, the flash of an unknown face like a fir tree–”
“Creation” (c. 1,000 words)
Published in the August 2016 issue of Flash Fiction Online. Faerie is grim, but hope can be born even amid despair. “When the Queen of Faerie orders you to do something, you don’t refuse.”
(I’m very proud of all three stories, but especially since An Alphabet of Embers is not freely available, I’d like to recommend “Water, Birch, and Blood”.)
“Water, Birch, and Blood” is also available in podcast form here, read by the lovely Anaea Lay.
Story notes: I started this story in summer 2014, trying to finish it for an anthology call which I didn’t submit to in the end (I can’t remember if I self-rejected or ran out of time). I wrote the first draft in a few days and it’s actually surprisingly similar to the final version. Then the story sat abandoned for a year and a half – I had actually forgotten I’d written it, and definitely didn’t remember I’d managed to complete it. But the call for Our Queer Planet nudged my memory, and I was pleased to discover that the story didn’t need a complete overhaul. The main difference is that it used to be in third person; but first person ended up suiting the intimate, introspective tone much better.
I used bits of Finnish bird mythology for inspiration. Corvids are basically seen as kind of evil (or a bad omen at least) in Finnish mythology, so far as I’ve been able to find out. Of course, the corvids in this story aren’t quite that black and white (except for the magpies hehehe :D). Crows were sometimes seen as messengers. Birds in general are very important in Finnish mythology and folklore.
I spent many of my happiest childhood moments in a cabin very similar to the one I’ve set “Water, Birch, and Blood” in. I miss that place a lot, and always feel a strange joy when I can include bits and pieces of it in my fiction.
I am very fond of this story, and I hope you enjoy it! I’m thrilled to be part of Our Queer Planet.
The world’s been an awful place lately, so I think it’s a good time to read some hopeful fiction. So here are three such stories:
Songbird by Shveta Thakrar (in Flash Fiction Online): a gorgeous tale about music and identity, about the freedom to be who you are.
Prudence and the Dragon by Zen Cho (in The World SF Blog) this is just so ridic charming! I love Zen Cho’s writing (I highly recommend her short story collection Spirits Abroad!), and this story is no exception. I love the London-ness of this tale too: so very very London in atmosphere. “Prudence and the Dragon” made me laugh out loud several times and is just so warm-hearted. And has a female friendship at its core.
Iron Aria by A. Merc Rustad (in Fireside Fiction): what a wonderful, hopeful secondary-world fantasy story! I love how well Merc handles all the intersections of identity in this. The worldbuilding is fascinating (and so rich for a short story) and the characters really come alive.
I’ve read AoE as an e-ARC, and while I am obviously biased, I’m also just stunned by how awesome this anthology is. The wonderful Rose Lemberg and the editorial team have done such a great job in arranging these strange tales, like a variety of luminous beads on a string.
And the art! The cover art, by Galen Dara, really captures the tone of the anthology with its eerieness and luminosity. And the interior art by Likhain! Aaah, I can’t wait to get my print contributor copy so that I can savour Likhain’s art bigger than it was on my ereader screen. She is one of my favourite contemporary artists.
I’m very proud of my contribution to the anthology, “The City Beneath the Sea”. This small story has a rather unusual origin (for me): it was actually a dream I had. Not all of it, of course – but I did dream the basic form of the story on 19 January 2013 (the pic above is from my dream diary). I added characters, an ending and made things more grounded – but it’s rather remarkable that the core elements were all there in the dream. Thanks, subconscious! I ended up writing the story in one day, in autumn 2014, inspired to check out my dream diary by the call for submissions for AoE. “The City Beneath the Sea” is one of those rare stories that flowed quick and easy from start to finish.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have other pro fiction sales since, but AoE was my first, and what a wonderful place for a first sale! I highly recommend this anthology – the quality and breadth of stories is wonderful.
An Alphabet of Embers launches this week, at the Nebula Awards! And here’s a lovely review of it, in which the reviewer Christina lists my story “The City Beneath the Sea” among those they particularly appreciated:
Long time no rec on the blog – I’ve been posting occasional recs on Twitter, but this blog has been quiet.
But now — it’s Mothers’ Day in Finland, and how better to celebrate than by recommending a creepy story?
Alyssa Wong’s Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers (in Nightmare Magazine, originally published in the Queers Destroy Horror! special issue) is an amazing, disturbing story. I don’t usually go for horror, but this story just really works, gave me the chills. The interpersonal relationships (including a mother-daughter relationship) are essential in this. And what a great ending!
“Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” is also a Nebula, Shirley Jackson, Bram Stoker and Locus Award finalist, so go and read it now if you haven’t already! Alyssa is also (well-deservedly) a finalist for the 2016 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.
Makeisha in Time, by Rachael K. Jones (in Crossed Genres). Such a fantastic story! It packs a lot of plot and character into a short space. I’m not the biggest fan of time travel stories, but this one does very interesting things with the notion.
And last, something far happier in tone: This is Not a Wardrobe Door, by A. Merc Rustad (in Fireside). This delightful tale about travelling between worlds, loss, and friendship is a great riff on Narnia-esque world-travel.
Aaasdgjhsdg I got my pre-release contributor ebook copy of Alphabet of Embers (ed. by Rose Lemberg)! The official print and ebook launch will be on the Nebula awards weekend, 12-15 May. The book has a Goodreads page already!
I just. Incoherence and happiness, right now. I reread my story (it’s in an actual book! along with contributions from some amazing authors who I really look up to! and the art is so amazing!) and felt a bit astonished that I’d written something that beautiful.
An Alphabet of Embers was my first professional fiction sale (and so far, my only; but I certainly hope it won’t remain my last!). And what a first! I feel so awed to be part of something this cool. This book jumped up to the top of my TBR pile – I can’t wait to get to read everyone else’s stories.
I’ll tell you more about my story once the anthology is officially out.