A giveaway, an interview, and a convention

I promise that I will soon write up the second of my backgrounders for the stories in The History of Soul 2065, but right now, I have some more newsy items to report.

  • First, I’m having a book giveaway! Mythic Delirium, the publisher, has sponsored a giveaway on GoodReads for the Kindle version of The History of Soul 2065, which starts today — so go sign up! (Or, if you want, you can always buy the book — it’s in pre-sales right now.)
  • I’ve had my first interview as a writer! Well, as a couple anyway — Jim Freund and I were interviewed by Elizabeth Crowens and are now featured in an article about power couples in speculative fiction at Black Gate. It’s a fun article — we talk about how we met online on the old BBS system, how we got involved with spec fic, and who some of our favorite writers are, among other things.
  • I attended Balticon last weekend, and while I unfortunately had to leave early, I was part of some really good panels on Saturday. At one, Gender in Genre, I promised to distribute a list of some of the great books that were mentioned during the panel, and still intend to do that in the near future.

Be back soon! I promise!

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The Story Behind “The Clearing in the Autumn”

anna
My grandmother as a child.

Background info for “The Clearing in the Autumn,” one of the stories in The History of Soul 2065.

The story in brief
Two young girls, one from Ukraine and one from Germany, meet in an mysterious, magical forest glade a day before World War I breaks out, and swear eternal friendship.

How it was written
“The Clearing in the Autumn” may be the first story that appears in The History of Soul 2065, but it was one of the last to be written. Along with “The Clearing in the Spring,” it’s among the few stories written specifically for this book, and it introduces the two girls whose lives begin this intergenerational saga: Chana and Sophia.

Notes on the people
Chana is loosely based on my mother’s mother, whose name was actually Chana (later changed to Anna after she came to America). My grandmother had four older brothers and a younger sister, and was well educated for a girl in those times — her parents were well off enough so they could bribe the local officials to let their daughter into the regular schools.

As I recall her (she died when I was 21), my grandmother was a sturdy, strong, intelligent, opinionated, radical woman. She did nursing in Russia during WWI, and also lived through a revolution, pogroms, and the chaos that followed. She and her family (including her new husband) emigrated to the U.S. in the early 1920s, just before the door slammed on people from Eastern Europe and other “undesirable” areas.

Sophia — at least, at this phase of her life — is completely fictional.

Notes on the place
The glade where the girls meet has its origins in my own experience. Back when I was a tween, I went to a sleepaway camp where there was little supervision, and where I was badly bullied by the other kids in my cabin. There was a small wooded area on the grounds, and I found a clearing there where I felt hidden, and could sit and read my books without having to deal with any of the other campers.

Notes on the history
Lviv (previously known as Lvov or Lemberg) sits near the border of Poland and Ukraine, and after WWI ended, it was claimed by both countries, resulting in a small war (as if WWI wasn’t enough). There was a large Jewish population; they declared their neutrality, and organized their own militia in defense of the country. However, when the Poles (who suspected that the Jews were actually supporting the Ukrainians) occupied the area in November of 1918, they disarmed and interned the Jewish militia. Several days of violence followed. Accounts of the number of people killed and injured vary widely.


Want to read The History of Soul 2065? Here are some links:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Powell’s | Google Play

More links, and direct purchase of ebooks, can be found at Mythic Delirium.


 

This weekend: Balticon

Balticon symbolI know I promised to start talking about the background behind some of my stories, but it’s going to be a busy weekend, so I thought I’d first let people know that I’m going to be at Balticon.

This is going to be my first Balticon, and I’m really looking forward to it. Not only because it sounds like a lot of fun, but because it’s happening about the time I’m also looking forward to two publications: my upcoming mosaic novel The History of Soul 2065, and my story “Blaming Caine,” which just came out in Chuck Gannon’s anthology Lost Signals of the Terran Republic.

I’m going to be participating in several panels, doing a reading, and hanging out with friends. If you’d like to sit in on some of them (or just come by to say hi), here’s my schedule:

Saturday, May 25

How to be a Good Moderator
Room 8006, 11am – 11:55am
Barbara Krasnoff (moderator), D.H. Aire, Jennifer R. Povey, Jazmine Cosplays, Grig Larson
Moderating a discussion panel at a convention is both easier and harder than it looks. Experienced moderators share their tips for keeping order, steering the discussion, and fixing it when things go wrong.

Gender in Genre
Room 8006, 6pm – 6:55pm
Barbara Krasnoff (moderator), K.M. Szpara, Jo Miles, Jazmine Cosplays, Rosemary Claire Smith
The presentation of gender roles in genre fiction has evolved drastically over the last century. While we may think of scifi as behind ahead of the curve with regards to social development, that’s not always the case. How have societal expectations of gender been reflected in genre works and who’s exploring new ground today?

Weird Tales and the Problematic
Mount Washington, 9pm – 9:55pm
John Robison (moderator), Lisa Padol, Scott Roche, Ruthanna Emrys, L. Marie Wood, Barbara Krasnoff
Lovecraft, Howard, Lord Dunsany, Poe, and other authors of the late 19th and early 20th centuries have had a formative effect on the genres of sci-fi and fantasy. Their depictions of sex, gender, race, and class that disturb many in the 21st Century, but not in the way the authors intended. Recently there have been calls to end using their materials, particularly Lovecraft. Should we abandon these stories and forms, or should we try and reappropriate the themes into our more diverse world?

Sunday, May 26

Class Structure in SF and Fantasy
Kent, 12pm – 12:55pm
Barbara Krasnoff (moderator), Lauren Harris, Sarah Avery, Ted Weber, Don Sakers
An invented society offers unique possibilities to examine our own. How would access to magic or powerful technology, or even a different path through history, alter larger communities? What fictional class systems have been too fantastical, and which have been depressingly close to reality?

Social Anxiety and the Modern Fan
Room 6017, 2pm – 2:55pm
Barbara Krasnoff (moderator), Dame Dahlia, Sara Testarossa, Fred G. Yost
How do fans who are introverts or have social anxiety deal with conventions and other fan gatherings?

Readings: Avery, Doyle, Krasnoff
St. George, 6pm – 6:55pm
Tom Doyle, Sarah Avery, Barbara Krasnoff
Authors Sarah Avery, Tom Doyle, and Barbara Krasnoff read from their works.

The Story Behind: The Story Behind

The History of Soul 2065I haven’t talked a lot about my upcoming book The History of Soul 2065. Hell, in another month the word “upcoming” will no longer be appropriate, which strikes me as extremely weird — I’ve been anticipating it for so long that, psychologically, I feel almost as if it will never actually happen.

But it’s gonna be available soon — June 11th, to be precise — and I thought it might be nice to provide a little background for each story, just to provide a little extra interest. I’ll talk about which of the characters are based on real people, which incidents are based on something that either happened, or that I was told happened — and which stories are pure, unadulterated imagination.

So I will soon start with the first story, “The Clearing in the Autumn.” But first, I thought I’d give a bit of an explanation for the book as a whole.

The History of Soul 2065 is what has been called (appropriately, I think) a mosaic novel. In other words, it’s a collection of stories that are woven together by a common theme. It came about when (with the help of a friend named Carolyn Fireside) I began to realize that many of the characters in my various short stories were either the same person at different stages of their lives, or individuals from different generations of the same family.

So a couple of years ago, I began to pull the stories together into what I hoped what a coherent whole. I organized them, reorganized them, created two family trees for each of the two families they represented, and then reorganized them several more times.

In the end, the 15 stories (out of 20) that were previously published have all been altered in some fashion. Some were only tweaked very slightly; others went through somewhat more radical alterations (for example, one was switched from first to third person). The five stories that are original to the book have either been written specifically to fill in a few blanks, or were simply never published before. I’ll let you know which is which.

Finally, I want to be absolutely clear that, while several of the characters here are based on people in my family, none of the characters represent a real, whole, once-lived-or-still-living person. First, I couldn’t recreate a living person if I wanted to; the inner lives and the experiences of individuals are theirs alone, and not something that I have access to. Second — these are all fictional stories. Like many writers, I simply started with a person I knew, or something I had heard of, and went from there.

So there it is. Next up: What was behind “The Clearing in the Autumn,” the first story in The History of Soul 2065.


Want to read The History of Soul 2065? Here are some links:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Powell’s | Google Play

More links, and direct purchase of ebooks, can be found at Mythic Delirium.


New story in Lost Signals of the Terran Empire

lost signalsMy name may not be on the cover or on the Amazon site, but I am indeed a contributor to the new anthology Lost Signals of the Terran Empire, assembled by Chuck Gannon. It’s a set of stories set in the universe of his Caine Riordan series, about the clashes between humans and several alien races.

It’s my first venture into writing a story in someone else’s universe, and it wasn’t easy. But in the end, it was a great challenge, and it was a lot of fun. My story, “Blaming Caine,” follows my current obsession: What happens to the people in the background, those who aren’t the great heroes who are at the front of most stories. Yejide is a student at the University of Mars whose parents died when their spaceship exploded. The intended victim was Caine Riordin, the protagonist of Chuck’s series, but in Yejide’s world, Riordin is not important — she wants to know why her parents died, and who killed them.

There are a lot of good authors represented in this book, including Chuck, Alex Schvartsman, Lawrence M. Schoen, Tom Doyle, and loads of others. These are fun, traditional sci-fi space adventure tales, so if that’s what you’re into, it’s a great fix; the book is now available at the usual sources.

Apologies and a promise

IMG_20190503_082134I just want to apologize to anyone who may be following this blog. I haven’t been updating it. Hardly at all. You would think, wouldn’t you, that anyone who had a book coming out within a couple of months would be doing everything she could to promote that book, wouldn’t you? Like, for example, keeping her blog updated? On at least a weekly, if not a daily, basis?

Well, I haven’t. And I need to. And I will. I promise.

Here are my excuses, as lame as they are. First, despite all the evidence — the rewrites and final edits, the pre-sales announcements, the lovely blurbs and comments by people who have already had access to the book, my own lame attempts at PR — despite all these, I am having trouble believing that I’m actually going to have a book out in a very short time.

Second (and slightly less lame): I’ve been busy dealing with a new job (which I’m doing my best to do my best at), keeping up with household and family issues, and trying to get some additional writing done. I’ve been extremely bad at this last bit, and am very embarrassed by that. And so I avoid talking out bit.

So, here’s what I propose: The book coming out, The History of Soul 2065, is made up of interconnected short stories, many of which were based on family tales, personal history, etc. So when June (and the book) hits, I’m going to use this blog to make available a series of explanations, one for each story, of how it got written, why, and what got left out. (Sort of what I’m doing for the short stories that I’ve been posting at Curious Fictions.) That may be interesting for readers, and it will be an incentive for me to get something done.

How does that sound?

(The photo on this page, by the way, has nothing to do with the blog entry. It’s simply a nice photo I took recently. I thought you might like it.)

Short musings on community

Erewhon reading
Left to write (uh, right): Liz Gorinsky, Nicholas Kaufmann, Ilana C. Myer.

Last night, I attended a literary salon sponsored by Erewhon Books, a new independent specfic publishing house headed by Liz Gorinsky. The salon took place in their Manhattan offices, a nice open space that seems to be a combination office and living room. It featured writers Ilana C. Myer and Nicholas Kaufmann (both of whom turned in great readings, by the way; as a result, I have just started reading Last Song Before Night, the first book in Ilana’s trilogy).

About halfway through the reading, while I was listening, I let my eyes wander around the room. There were about 30 or 40 people present, sitting on chairs, couches, and the rug; listening, occasionally nodding, and sometimes laughing at inside jokes that we all got. Everyone seemed comfortable, easy, and happy to listen to some excellent prose by people whom they knew and liked.

cofAnd I realized that I was also enjoying the evening, relaxing despite all the various stresses that I (like so many of today’s adults) deal with. That even though I didn’t talk to many of the attendees on a day-to-day basis, this was my community, the people with whom I felt the most comfortable. And that it was nice to know they were around.

We all need communities, and most of us are lucky to have one — and often, several. It could be a community made up of our families, of neighbors, of college friends, of people at work, of people who share our interests, of the people who we meet every day walking their dogs in the park. These days, very often, these communities can be made up of people whom we never meet in person, but who we know from the back-and-forth of online social groups.

But whether online or in person, communities are important. And I am very grateful for mine.