I’ve been lacking in the blog posting again: November’s swallowed me up a bit with PhD writing and working on the novel. (Which progresses, although far slower than I’d like. General exhaustion is catching up with me, it seems. But I’m plodding along even if I’ve no energy for sprinting!)
I’ve had little extra energy for sending out poetry or short fiction this autumn (because of work + novel). That saddens me, but well, I can’t do it all. Much though I’d want to.
So, it’s extra awesome that a couple of days ago, I got news of a poetry sale despite not having sent stuff out recently. My poem “The Queen, After” will be appearing in Through the Gate. Yay! This will be my second poem published in TtG (a wonderful magazine).
Also, another poetry sale that I feel embarrassed for not having mentioned before (lack of energy has been a real problem): I sold my Helsinki-set poem “Sunharvest Triptych” to the upcoming solarpunk anthology Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk & Eco-Speculation, edited by Phoebe Wagner and Brontë Wieland. I’m very happy to be among the contributors for this anthology! It’s a really cool project.
(I feel sad that I’ve also lacked the energy for doing my Sunday recs. I’ve recced the occasional short story or poem on Twitter, but I’d like to get back to writing my mini-reviews too.)
The first volume of the exciting magazine Remixt is now out! The volume consists of nine small issues curated by different editors drawing from the same submissions pool. It was thus possible for a poem to be picked for more than one issue. Interestingly, there isn’t that much overlap! You can read more about this first volume in publisher Julia Rios’s introductory words. (Incidentally, with regard to the statistics in that post: although I don’t indicate it in my bio, I am also queer, so the number of queer poets included in the volume goes up to 2.)
So yeah – I apparently forgot to announce this earlier except on Twitter, but Remixt vol. 1 also features a poem by me!
This poem has a clear origin: in the spring of last year I went to see a performance art show featuring a performance by one of my oldest friends. It moved me so much I wrote a poem about it. She, in turn, had been inspired for her performance by her small child, who is a delightful person. Layers of inspiration! It only took me one revision to get to the final poem (revising after letting it sit for a while, as is my usual practice with poems).
I hope you enjoy it – and the rest of the issue and volume too!
As the northern days lengthen
our time together is thread-thin
It’s about fairytale taboos and transformation, set in a mythological-Finland-ish world. In fact, it’s the same world where my previous Strange Horizons poems are set (“Wolf Daughter” and “Raw Honey”), and where I’ve set a few stories, too. I love Finnish folklore and I love twisting it to my own purposes.
(I promised a post on novel revision but I’m still mired in the actual revision and have had little brain for much else in my free time. But I’ll write that post soon!)
It’s a story of Faerie, with an emphasis on language and Welsh things. I’ve visited the Welsh castle referred to in “Creation” myself, a few times: it’s a majestic place. (A seagull once stole my sandwich in Conwy town, but that hasn’t reduced my enjoyment of the castle.)
This story was born out of a writing exercise. From late 2013 to early 2015 I had a sporadic but persistent project where I wrote something – poems or short story snippets – based on the pictures in the 33 abandoned places in this post. The zero draft of “Creation” was written already in December 2013, inspired by picture #5, “The abandoned Wonderland Amusement Park outside Beijing, China”. I don’t know how I ended up writing about Faerie for that picture, but that’s how it turned out from the very start.
(Another of those abandoned-place stories has been published, too: The Ruin in Luna Station Quarterly, inspired by picture #8.)
“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.
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.
I wrote this poem in April 2014, and edited it around a year later based on feedback from my writing group. (Yes, sometimes my poetry progresses veeery slowly, with edits happening ages after the first draft was written in a frenzy.) Another poem that improved significantly with the help of suggestions from my lovely group. <3
Sadly, unlike in the poem, Finland is still in winter's grip – we've got sun at last (sun! sun! sun!) but it's still close to zero and there's frost at night. I hope true spring comes soon and all things begin to grow. To paraphrase my poem: I want my witchery to awaken, my winter-faded soul to strengthen. I've been winter-tired and mired in a thousand busy things, but perhaps with the turning year I too can turn, awake and begin to live again.