New Story: The Hedge-Witch of Welland

My story “The Hedge-Witch of Welland” is out now in the Summer 2021 issue of Kaleidotrope!

This story was co-written with Jacqueline Flay. It’s a post-apocalyptic story about two witches living in a little cottage near Niagara Falls, dinosaurs, survivor guilt, and healing.

It was a very long road to publishing this one – to give you some idea, it was first accepted by the “Start a Revolution: QUILTBAG Transmutations” anthology back in 2014, which was sadly never published – and “Start a Revolution” wasn’t the first place we submitted it to. I’m so happy to see it finding a home online at last.

Content Notes: “The Hedge-Witch of Welland” has a happy ending, but it does contain depictions of physical and religious abuse in flashback scenes.

Some new fall releases!

With all of the things going on, I’ve neglected to promote some of my new short work this fall.

STORY REPRINT: Minor Heresies

“Minor Heresies,” which first appeared in Ride the Star Wind, has been reprinted in Transcendent 3: The Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction. I was surprised that Bogi thought the story was “trans enough,” to be honest – but I am definitely not complaining about this lineup. (I am TOC-mates with Yoon Ha Lee, Shweta Narayan, Rose Lemberg, Rivers Solomon, AND Charlie Jane Anders! Among others. *heart eyes*)

“Minor Heresies” is set in the same universe as THE OUTSIDE, but occurs about 200 years earlier.

NEW POEM: singing teeth

In September I posted “singing teeth,” a new poem, on Patreon. It was exclusive to $5+ backers for a month, but now it’s free to everyone. This one is about finding one’s voice and having it be a more difficult voice to manage than one thought. Read it here.

NEW POEM: Held Tongue

A brand new Patreon poem for November, “Held Tongue” is still in its exclusive phase, but if you’re a $5+ backer (or want to become one) you can find it here. I’ll post again when it becomes open to everyone. Cheers!

New Story: Variations on a Theme from Turandot

A new story is out today, “Variations on a Theme from Turandot,” in the May 14 issue of Strange Horizons.

This is a story with an unusually long story behind it. I first started wanting to write something like it in 2010. What started as a vague “I want to write a fix-it fic” urge became exponentially more complicated and strange the more I thought about it, and then the various beta reads, personal rejections, and rewrite requests I received only complicated it even more.

Turandot is an absurd, racist, sexist, Orientalist, rape-culture-endorsing, absolutely-no-sense-making opera that Puccini never actually finished writing. It is also my favorite opera. I am a complicated person.

As I have time (which is unfortunately in short supply right now, because grad school) I will hopefully be able to post some story notes, talking about the research and rewrites that went into this story. For now, you can simply read and enjoy. But do take care to check the content warnings first, please, because shit gets dark in Turandot and my feeble attempts to grapple with that subject matter have only made it darker.

New Story: “Minor Heresies”

My new short story, “Minor Heresies”, is out in Ride the Star Wind by Broken Eye Books.

Ride the Star Wind is an anthology of Lovecraftian space opera, which, coincidentally, is also more or less the genre of my novel, FALSE GODS (currently being shopped around by my agent; *crosses fingers*). The story I ended up writing is set in the same universe as my novel, but about 200 years earlier and in a very different neck of the woods.

In “Minor Heresies”, I wanted to explore a bit about the origins of Vaurians. FALSE GODS contains a major character who is Vaurian – not an alien, but a shapeshifting human-like being, bred for espionage by the supercomputer-Gods.  There’s a lot of prejudice against Vaurians in this fictional universe. The character in the novel plays into a lot of the in-world stereotypes: suave, manipulative, sinister, highly attractive, and fanatically devoted to the Gods (at least as long as it suits him). I like him a lot, for Reasons. But I also wanted space to break the stereotypes and write a Vaurian who wasn’t like that at all. So I ended up with Mimoru, the protagonist of “Minor Heresies” – a hapless little nerd from the days when Vaurians were still a new thing and mortals didn’t know what to do with them. He struggles to fit in with either Vaurians or mortals, struggles to find a place in his galaxy, and stumbles on to problems much bigger than he knows how to handle – problems which, ultimately, are as much about the repressive theocracy that created him as they are about the Lovecraftian horrors he sees.

Mimoru is also explicitly on the autism spectrum, although this was a part of his character that kind of crept up on me while I wrote. The story isn’t constructed to make any grand statement about autism, in particular. It also fleshes out a little about the non-human parts of the FALSE GODS galaxy, and how humans (cautiously) trade and communicate with aliens who don’t share their computer-religion.

Ride the Star Wind’s lineup looks pretty cool (including a story by Bogi Takács involving EVIL TRIANGLES!) so I hope some of you will go check it out.

As Hollow as a Heart

My story, “As Hollow as a Heart”, is out now in Volume 5, Issue 2 of LampLight magazine.

This story has a curious history. It features Lady Blue, the same gender-flipped Bluebeard character from 2015’s “Lady Blue and the Lampreys”, but its tone, setting, and treatment of the character are very different. It might be a sequel, or a prequel, or an AU. My money is on “both AU and prequel”, but with a person whose life is as long and cyclical as Lady Blue’s, who knows?

You don’t have to have read “Lady Blue and the Lampreys” to understand this story, or vice versa.

Personally, the first draft of this story came to me about two years ago, when I was in the very late stages of a relationship that was going very bad. I had not yet discerned that the relationship was actually abusive, and that I needed to end it. I would, only a month or two after writing the story, but I had not yet then. And although there is no overt abuse in this story, looking back, that’s what the heart of the story is all about. That strange feeling of wanting something, of knowing it is rotten at the core, and of staying anyway.

Read safely, if you read.

The Scrape of Tooth and Bone

Out today in GigaNotoSaurus, is my new novelette, “The Scrape of Tooth and Bone“. It is set in a steampunk fossil expedition in the badlands of western Canada, and features an autistic protagonist. There are also giant robots, dinosaurs, Spiritualism, lesbian romance, and ghosts.

This is an older story, and one where I suspect I might do a few things differently if I was writing it again today. I’m still rather fond of it, though, and am very pleased to be able to share it with you at last. Enjoy!

Lady Blue and the Lampreys

Today is the launch day for The Exile Book of New Canadian Noir, which features my short story, “Lady Blue and the Lampreys”. I’m excited and intrigued to see what happens with this book – noir is not at all my usual genre. But I happened to have this story lying around which involved a femme fatale, a gender-flipped fairy tale, and a bunch of soul-eating three-headed lamprey people who invade a dingy little small town. It had enough elements of Weird Noir that I looked at it and said, “Hmm, I bet Claude Lalumière and David Nickle would like this,” and then they did. 😀

Merc Rustad gets major thanks for helping me talk out my vague “I want to write a female Bluebeard because reasons” ideas, way back when this was being drafted, and connect them to a workable plot.

New Story: The Screech Owl Also Shall Rest There

So now on to happier news!

My friend/collaborator Jacqueline Flay and I have a new story out in the anthology, “The Death God’s Chosen” by Deepwood Publishing. It’s a novelette featuring Mesolithic vampires, polyamory, an unusually large-scale Revenge SVP, and the origin of writing. Among other things.

This story was quite a while in the making. Working with Jacqueline was a new experience for me at the time, but a good one, and she helped push the story into territory I would have normally been too intimidated to venture into. We had to drop out of the market for which we originally wrote it due to a contractual dispute, and I had some moments of despair wondering if ANYONE else but that market would buy this type of story, but of course it was not only snapped up in due time, but by a market which, despite being a very small press, paid more than the original. And has better cover art. So… Yay!

Plus we’re the first story in the whole anthology & the first authors to be named on the cover, which is kind of cool, in a mindless-ego-feeding sort of way.

An excerpt:

“Close your eyes. Sing.”

Tiqu, the new boy, does as he’s told, standing tense in the temple’s centre with Ishka poised in front of him like a lover. He opens his lips on a wordless melody. It doesn’t matter what the song is, only that it distracts him. The comb will hurt worse if he’s thinking about it too hard.

The temple is a monumental thing, carved full of lion-gods, eagle-gods, even beetle-gods. Ishka usually does this under the trees or the stars, wherever her pack happens to be. But the temple was close this time, and she could not resist it. She is old enough to remember when this was pure blasphemy. Imagine gods that stay in one place, not roaming freely like every other creature! There were wars over this temple once. Ishka still smells blasphemy when she visits, and she likes that, even if the humans no longer remember why.

Tiqu’s brow furrows. He repeats his melody, a chant to match the carvings.

Ishka dips her sharpened obsidian comb into the bowl of ash in front of her and looks Tiqu’s nude body up and down.

Then she drives the comb into the flesh of his thigh.

The anthology is ebook-only, but is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

If you like this, you should know this isn’t my only collaboration with Jacqueline Flay; we’re also in the TOC for Michael Matheson’s anthology “Start a Revolution: QUILTBAG Fiction Vying for Change“, which comes out in 2015.