Wordsmiths: An Interview with Jerome Stueart

Friday, March 24th, 2017 | Posted by Brandon Crilly

The Angels of Our Better Beasts-smallLast post, I had the pleasure of reviewing Jerome Stueart’s short story collection The Angels of Our Better Beasts, which is one of my favorite collections to date and something you all need to go read. (Seriously, here’s the link; I know you have money kicking around somewhere.) Jerome also did me the pleasure of an interview to discuss his writing practice, his previous projects, and some of the stories in his collection. I hope you enjoy as we ramble back and forth (and then go buy his book)!

Jerome Stueart writes fiction, memoir, science fiction and fantasy. His work has been published in journals, magazines, newspapers and on the radio–a list of which can be found under Written Work and Books. He’s a 2007 graduate of Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing Workshop in San Diego and a 2013 graduate of the Lambda Literary Retreat for Emerging LGBT Voices. He teaches workshops on writing science fiction/fantasy and writing about faith. His co-edited anthology of science fiction/fantasy that explores faith, Tesseracts 18: Wrestling with Gods, was published by EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing. His first novel, One Nation Under Gods, will be published in summer of 2018 from ChiZine.

Me: First off, thanks for taking the time for this interview, Jerome! There are a bunch of different things in Angels of Our Better Beasts that I want to ask you about. I’m going to start with the illustrations that you included with each story (and the sketches you create for people at conferences). Which came first for you: drawing or writing? And does one influence the other at all?

JS: Hey Brandon! Thanks for interviewing me. As to your question: I think you’re talking about in MY LIFE which came first. If so, drawing came first. I started drawing as a child — pictures of animals. Little cartoon talking animals, I think at first, based off a skunk puppet I bought when I was seven or eight. But immediately, I turned them into story. The skunk had a porcupine friend (both outcasts, of course) and they wandered through this flip pad I had. I also was introduced to comic books when I was nine or ten, and then my drawing took on more superhero images. Again, I immediately created a team and gave them personalities, but the drawings came just ahead by a nose.

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New Treasures: Hekla’s Children by James Brodgen

Friday, March 24th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Hekla's Children-small Hekla's Children-back-small

James Brogden is an Australian horror writer with three novels to his credit, The Narrows, Tourmaline, The Realt, plus the collection Evocations. His latest is a modern-day dark fantasy about a teacher who has four students go missing on the same day… and the horror that begins when one of them returns alone.

Tim Lebbon calls it “Brilliant… full of great twists and beautifully drawn characters,” and Kirkus Reviews says it’s “genuinely scary… a wonderfully odd mix of dark Bronze Age fantasy and modern-day thriller, and it works.” Booklist gave it high praise indeed, saying

The engrossing plot features steadily intensifying dread… a fast-paced and terrifying ride as everyone tries to solve two mysteries, one modern and one ancient… a horror novel and a standout thriller that can hold its own against the best in either genre.

Hekla’s Children was published by Titan Books on March 7, 2017. It is 400 pages, priced at $14.95 in trade paperback and $7.99 for the digital version. The cover was designed by Julia Lloyd (click the images to embiggen). Read a brief excerpt at Dread Central.

Goth Chick News: The Horror of Adult Coloring Books

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 | Posted by Sue Granquist

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The explosion in popularity of adult coloring books over the past few years is quite possibly one of the greatest things to happen for us big kids, who are stuck performing stupid “adulting” activities such as going to a day job and paying bills.

Relieving anger and stress by coloring complex and hilarious pictures, (seriously, check out the Farting Animals coloring book; you won’t be disappointed) has become a norm among grown-ups, resulting the marketing of implements significantly more expensive and fancy than the most coveted of childhood creativity tools; the 64-color crayon pack.

So it was only a matter of time before the “Shut the F*** Up and Color” and “Drunk, Foul-Mouthed Jerk Unicorns” coloring book creators sought to capture revenue from an even more diverse audience by venturing further into inappropriate subject matters such as the horror genre.

Welcome to the new world of coloring slashers, corpses and skulls.

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A Tale of Two Covers: The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi, and The Corroding Empire by Johan Kalsi

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

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io9 is reporting that Amazon temporarily blocked sales of The Corroding Empire, the short story collection from pseudonymous “Johan Kalsi” that Castalia House created to troll John Scalzi’s new Tor release The Collapsing Empire.

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi was released from Tor Books Tuesday, almost a year after it was first announced. Earlier this month, Theodore Beale (aka Vox Day) revealed on his blog that The Corroding Empire from Johan Kalsi was available for pre-order… and would be released one day before Scalzi’s book. Amazon temporarily made the book unavailable to buy, but it looks to have been restored for the time being… There’s a reason Beale made a cover that looks exactly like Scalzi’s, and it’s not to ride his coattails. This is all part of Beale’s longstanding feud (or obsession) with Scalzi, who hasn’t shied away from criticizing him in the past.

I assumed the Castalia House release was a parody of Scalzi’s new book, but that doesn’t appear to be the case — it’s a straight up collection of SF stories, packaged to look virtually identical to The Collapsing Empire. I’m not sure of the exact point, but Theo is obsessively tracking the comparative sales of the two books on his blog.

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Reading for the End of the World

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 | Posted by Thomas Parker

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Back in 1977, near the high water mark of an earlier age of apocalyptic expectations, Elvis Costello crooned a song about “Waiting for the End of the World.” It seemed to make sense in that era of turmoil and unrest at home and abroad, but the American landscape of the last year or so makes the turbulent 70’s seem like an age of cool, good humored rationality. (It wasn’t — trust me.)

I, along with Little Orphan Annie and MacBeth, still expect the sun to come up tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, but even so, it does indeed feel as if we have arrived at the end of something, and business as usual just won’t do anymore; adjustments are called for in many aspects of our lives, including (of course!) reading. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary literary measures. Therefore… to the barricades — uh, bookstores!

In the spirit of the incipient panic, withered expectations, and rampant paranoia that seem to dominate our current national life, I offer twelve books to get you through the next four years (however long they may actually last): a reading list for the New Normal.

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Colonists, Smugglers, and Fast Attack Craft: The Virtues of War Trilogy by Bennett R. Coles

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

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I grew up as an army brat in Canada. My dad was an engineer in the Canadian Armed Forces, and I was born on a Canadian Air Force base in Marville, France in the mid-60s. We moved all over Nova Scotia, Quebec, and eventually Ontario, as Dad led teams of engineers working on huge projects, including radar installations in Eureka, Nunavut, and the Air Combat Maneuvering range in Cold Lake, Alberta.

So I’ve been naturally curious about the work of author Bennett R. Coles, who spent 14 years as an officer in the Royal Canadian Navy, and served two tours with the United Nations in Syria and Lebanon. His debut SF novel, Virtues of War (Promontory Press, 2010), drew wide praise for both its realistic portrayal of life in uniform, and for his mastery of fast-paced military SF.

Now, I know you’ve been wanting to try some military SF, but you’ve been a little gun shy, right? Who better to ease you into the genre than a Canadian writing about far-flung Terran colonies, smugglers, rebellion, sinister terrorists, and the crew of a fast attack craft caught in the middle of it all? You know I’m right.

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King Tut’s Treasure: The Items You Don’t Usually See

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017 | Posted by Sean McLachlan


Ivory headrest. This is used as a pillow in many African
cultures if you want to preserve your hairdo. How you’re
supposed to actually get any sleep is beyond me

King Tutankhamun (1336-1327 BC) was a short-lived 18th dynasty pharaoh who was obscure and little studied by egyptologists until Howard Carter discovered his nearly intact tomb in 1922. Since then his most elaborate burial goods have been photographed countless times, and the whole world is familiar with images of his famous death mask, sarcophagi, and other golden treasures.

But these are only a small fraction of all the finds in the tomb. A total of 5,398 artifacts were retrieved, and on a recent visit to the Egyptian Museum during a writing retreat in Cairo, I had the privilege to see some of the ones not often reproduced in books.

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March 2017 Clarkesworld Now Available

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Clarkesworld March 2017-smallThe March 2017 issue of Clarkesworld, issue #126, comes packed with tales of apocalypses. Here’s Charles Payseur from Quick Sip Reviews.

Clarkesworld Magazine for March [contains] five original stories including a great novelette in translation… these pieces are concerned with new forms of intelligence and with the end of the world. Or maybe just with the end of certain aspects of it. But at least two of the stories are more specifically apocalyptic, and many besides are about doubt and depression, anxiety and seclusion. These stories show people closing themselves off from the rest of the world — out of fear or hurt — and then having to decide whether to open up again. It’s a wonderful issue…

“Goodnight, Melancholy” by Xia Jia, translated by Ken Liu (11,932 words)

This is a wrenching and beautiful story about despair and about loneliness. About machines and machine intelligence and people in need of a voice and presence. The story breaks itself between two storylines, between parts that involve Alan Turing, which are semi-historical and reveal a man desperate for connections but deeply worried about make thing, and parts that involve a young woman who is using machines as part of therapy to help her through depression and anxiety. The parts with Turing reveal his situation as a gay man in a world where being gay was a crime, where every conversation he had might lead him to ruin. To embarrassment and worse. To what did ultimately happen to him… It’s an amazing story that is deep and lyrical even as it captures something of a biographical tone.

Find Charles’ complete review here.

The March issue of Clarkesworld contains original fiction from Robert Reed, J.B. Park, Nomi Kritzer, Octavia Cade, and Xis Jia, plus reprints by Ian R. MacLeod and Alexander Jablokov.

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From Texas to Chicago: An Interview With Author B. Chris Bell

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017 | Posted by Joe Bonadonna

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B Chris Bell and I share a publisher, Airship 27 Productions; I’ve also reviewed a few of his novels for Black Gate. I first “met” Chris on Facebook back in 2011, and later that year met him in person at Chicago’s “Windy City Pulp and Paperback Convention.” We hit it off right away, having so many things in common — books, TV shows, movies, and music. Plus, he lives in Chicago, not very far from me. He also knows more about pulp fiction than any three people I know. Over the past few years we’ve become good friends, and he, his lovely wife Darlene, and I get together on occasion to watch movies of all kinds, talk about books, life, and how we can solve all the world’s problems. Chris is a pretty prolific author, and I think everyone should his Bagman series, set in 1930s Chicago. Great fun — and he captures perfectly the era and attitude of Chicago. Not bad for a guy raised in Texas. And like another Texas writer I admire, Larry McMurtry, Chris has a natural-born gift for storytelling. I hope I can talk him into writing that western he talks about writing. I especially love for him to write a weird western.

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Future Treasures: Among the Fallen, Book 2 of Godserfs, by NS Dolkart

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

SIlent Hall NS Dolkart-small Among the Fallen NS Dolkart-small

Among the Fallen, the second volume in NS Dolkart’s epic fantasy series Godserfs, arrives early next month from Angry Robot. The first volume, Silent Hall, was released in the US last June, and James A Moore called it “Very nearly a perfect novel. I wish my first book had been anywhere near as inventive and challenging.” So let’s start with that one. Here’s the description.

Five bedraggled refugees and a sinister wizard awaken a dragon and defy the gods.

After their homeland is struck with a deadly plague, five refugees cross the continent searching for answers. Instead they find Psander, a wizard whose fortress is invisible to the gods, and who is willing to sacrifice anything – and anyone – to keep the knowledge of the wizards safe.

With Psander as their patron, the refugees cross the mountains, brave the territory of their sworn enemies, confront a hostile ocean and even traverse the world of the fairies in search of magic powerful enough to save themselves – and Psander’s library – from the wrath of the gods.

All they need to do is to rescue an imprisoned dragon and unleash a primordial monster upon the world.

How hard could it be?

Looks like things turned out okay for everybody, since they’re back for a second volume. Let’s see what’s going on in this one. Hope that sinister wizard guy shows up again.

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