Rock Stars, Bloggers, and Hidden Magic: The Wind in His Heart by Charles de Lint

Thursday, September 14th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

The Wind in His Heart Charles de Lint-smallI met Charles de Lint when he was an unpublished author in the early 80s. We both hung out at the best bookstore in town, the much-missed House of Speculative Fiction in downtown Ottawa. There was a big fuss about his first novel, The Riddle of The Wren (1984), plucked out of the slush at Ace Books by legendary editor Terri Windling, but it was the bestselling Moonheart (Ace, 1984) that made us realize that Charles wasn’t just a local boy who done good — he was a major artist embarking on an extraordinary career.

71 books later, Charles is one of the most revered writers in fantasy. He’s been enormously kind to us over the years, even contributing a terrific story to the very first issue of Black Gate.  I asked Charles to tell us a bit about his latest book, and he was generous enough to send me this yesterday.

I’m excited to get back to writing for adults. It took me three years to write my new novel, The Wind in His Heart, pretty much double the time I’d normally take to complete a book, but this 545-page story was tricky to put together. It’s about a young man who works at a trading post and is the sole supporter in his family yet longs to go and explore the world; a rock star hiding from fame out in the desert; a teenage girl from an abusive family who gets tossed out of her dad’s car in the middle of the desert, and a blogger trying to come to terms with the suicide of her best friend. The story is about how their lives collide, and how they deal with their past and future. Many of my readers have been asking if it’s a Newford book, and the short answer is no, but it does have some Newford threads and connections.

This is a major new novel from one of the most important writers at work today. When word broke in our offices that it was arriving this month, there was frenzy to settle who would have the privilege of reading it first (Zeta Moore won; she’ll be reviewing it for us in a few weeks.)

The Wind in His Heart will be published by Triskell Press on September 19, 2017. It is 545 pages, priced at $7.99 for the digital edition. Read an excerpt in the Autumn issue of Faerie Magazine, and learn more at Charles’ website. And check out all our coverage of his previous books here.

Charles de Lint and The Little Country

Friday, May 22nd, 2015 | Posted by Violette Malan

The Little CountryIn talking about portal fantasies last time, I was moved to reread one of the more unusual examples of the sub-genre, Charles de Lint’s The Little Country (1991).

The book is in a very real sense two books, but it isn’t a simple play-within-a-play, story-within-a-story thing: Each book is being read by the protagonist of the other. The now-overused self-referential concept known as “meta” wasn’t so common when The Little Country was written, but it might have been invented to describe the novel. The book is extremely self-aware, something which even the protagonists are forced to recognize.

The two stories do run parallel to one another, but this isn’t a case of success in one world reflecting or depending on success in the other world, as we see in King and Straub’s The Talisman, for example. The characters don’t overlap, the settings aren’t the same, though you might say that the outcomes are. There is a physical object common to both worlds, a standing stone with an opening through which objects and people can pass. Both worlds have the tradition that passing through the stone nine times at moonrise effects some magical change – entrance into the land of the faerie, a cure for sickness or barrenness, etc.

In the thread which most resembles our world, Janey Little, a twenty-something traditional musician, finds a book in her grandfather’s attic – a one-of-a-kind hitherto unknown work left in her grandfather’s keeping by the author, an old and eccentric friend. The book is called “The Little Country.”

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Vintage Treasures: Charles de Lint’s Wolf Moon, and a Tale of Roving Booksellers

Sunday, April 27th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Wolf Moon Charles de Lint-smallIt pays to know excellent booksellers.

On Tuesday, Rich Warren, co-owner of Starfarer’s Despatch, posted a pic of Charles de Lint’s 1988 Signet paperback Wolf Moon on Facebook and later this brief review:

What a blast. Just finished this one this morning. A tale sympathetic to the Werewolf, and told from his point of view. I know there are De Lint fans who enjoy his urban fantasy (Newford) more but the great writing is still present in these older fantasies.

My comment was concise, but completely heartfelt: “I need this book! Rich, sell me one!”

I meant it, too. Wolf Moon was reprinted in 2004, with a generic urban fantasy cover, but the 1988 paperback original, which boasts a fabulous cover by Dean Morrissey, showing a werewolf relaxing in The Inn of the Yellow Tinker, is much harder to come by.

Three days later, I returned from my business trip to Las Vegas. I drove straight from the airport to the Westin hotel in Lombard, Illinois, and arrived shortly before the Dealer’s Room closed at Windy City Pulp and Paper, one of my favorite local cons (the write-up I did on last year’s is here). I wasn’t in the room five minutes before I heard a friendly voice calling my name: Arin Komins, Rich’s wife and the other half of the splendid enterprise that is Starfarer’s Despatch.

“We have a book for you,” Arin said. We found Rich and, sure enough, he pulled a beautiful, unread copy of Wolf Moon out of his backpack.

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A Circle of Cats by Charles de Lint and Charles Vess

Monday, September 24th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

a-circle-of-catsIt’s always a pleasure when two creators I admire collaborate. Case in point: A Circle of Cats, a Charles de Lint short story gorgeously illustrated by Charles Vess.

Although it’s very short (48 pages, at least half of which is full-color artwork), A Circle of Cats is a complete and satisfying tale. It tells the story of Lillian, a 12-year-old orphan who lives on the edge of a vast and very old wood with her aunt. One day, after all her chores are done, Lillian chases a deer into a part of the woods she’s never explored before. Falling asleep at the foot of a great gnarled tree, she disturbs a snake that strikes her three times.

As she lays dying, a circle of cats forms around her, for Lillian has found their ancient gathering place. The cats decide to intervene, and when Lillian awakens, she finds herself in the body of a kitten.

What Lillian finds as she explores the woods as a cat, and the strange creatures she meets, form the bulk of the tale. But as night arrives and her elderly aunt begins a desperate search deeper and deeper into the woods for her, Lillian’s efforts to find a way to return to human form become more determined. Ultimately, she learns that getting what she wants will require help from friends she didn’t know she had, and an unusual sacrifice.

Fans of de Lint and Vess’s earlier collaboration, the massive illustrated fantasy Seven Wild Sisters (Subterranean Press, May 2002), will find both the setting and some of the characters familiar, including Aunt Lillian, The Apple Tree Man, and The Father of Cats. De Lint and Vess also collaborated on Medicine Road (Tachyon Publications, June 2009), featuring the further adventures of the red-haired Dillard twins, Laurel and Bess, from Seven Wild Sisters.

While it is primarily intended for young readers, A Circle of Cats is still a fine introduction to Charles de Lint’s fiction, as it has all the hallmarks of his work, including fascinating characters, magical settings, and a story richly suffused in myth. Vess, the artist behind The Book of Ballads and three books with Neil Gaiman (Instructions, Blueberry Girl, and the illustrated version of Stardust), delivers his usual excellent artwork.

A Circle of Cats was published in hardcover by Viking Juvenile in June, 2003. It is 48 pages in full color, with a cover price of $16.99.

Charles de Lint’s Promises to Keep

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012 | Posted by Elizabeth Cady

promises-to-keepPromises to Keep
Charles de Lint
Tachyon (192 pp, $14.95, Paperback May 2011) 
Reviewed by Elizabeth Cady

Charles de Lint has become one of the big names in the worlds of Urban and Mythic Fantasy, and for good reason. At its best, his stories are beautifully crafted. They capture both the wonder of the everyday and the sheer strangeness of the otherworld that can intrude into our own. A key aspect of his work has been his creation of Newford, a fictional North American city. De Lint has, over the last twenty years, filled this city with a cast of characters that have by now become familiar friends to his readers.

Jilly Coppercorn is one of those characters, and she is central to many of his novels and short stories. In Promises to Keep, one of the latest entries into the Newford series, we learn more of Jilly’s troubled history. We know from her previous appearances that Jilly is a survivor of sexual abuse and a recovering addict, that she lived for a time on the street, and that she escaped that life to become an artist. Promises takes us back to that fragile time in Jilly’s life when she first escaped heroin and forced prostitution and began the long process of healing.

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A Review of Jack the Giant Killer, by Charles de Lint

Monday, September 13th, 2010 | Posted by Isabel Pelech

jackJack the Giant Killer, by Charles de Lint
Ace (202 pages, hardcover, November 1987)

Charles de Lint’s Jack the Giant Killer is an urban fantasy novel, but it feels more accurate to call it an urban fairy tale. It’s set in Ottawa and makes frequent references to streets and landmarks; I have a feeling I’d get even more out of it if I were the least bit familiar with the city. Fortunately, geographic familiarity is not required to enjoy this story.

Jacky Rowan has just been through a moderately poor breakup. Her boyfriend stormed out after declaring her a predictable, boring shut-in. Partly because of his accusations, partly because of feeling empty and numb, she cuts off her waist-length hair, goes drinking, and then wanders down to a park, reflecting on her life and whether or not it means anything.

She has a distinct impression of someone watching her from the blacked-out windows of one house, but before she has time to reflect on that, she witnesses what appears to be a biker gang chasing down what looks like a small man.

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Explorers, Mathematicians, and Airwalkers: November/December Print SF Magazines

Friday, December 6th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Analog Science Ficion and Fact November December 2019-small Asimov's Science Ficion November December 2019-small The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction November December 2019-small

Covers by Tuomas Korpi, Donato Giancola, and Bob Eggleton

The end-of-year crop of print magazines contains some very promising fiction from Michael Swanwick, James Morrow, James Patrick Kelly, Benjamin Rosenbaum, M. Rickert, Jerry Oltion, Mark W. Tiedemann, Jay O’Connell, Allen M. Steele, R. Garcia y Robertson, Harry Turtledove, James Gunn, and many others — including Black Gate‘s new short fiction reviewer, James Van Pelt. But I think my favorite piece this month was Sheila Williams’ editorial, “A Sadder and Wiser Woman,” in which she addresses the loss of two women, Janet Jeppson Asimov and Carol Emshwiller, who had long been associated with Asimov’s Science Fiction. Here she reminisces about her friendship with Emshwiller.

I was a high-school student when I first encountered Carol Emshwiller’s fiction in the pages of Dangerous Visions. I had to reread “Sex and/or Mr. Morrison” a couple of times before I had the slightest idea of what was going one. I became friends with Carol after I moved to New York City, and in 1991 she convinced my husband and I to accompany her on a walking tour of England’s Lake District….

Carol was bemused to “break in” to Asimov’s in January 2006. Her first story for us was “World of No Return.” Over the next seven years we published twelve of her inventive and often disturbing tales. One short story, “The Lovely Ugly” (August 2010), tied for first place in our annual Readers’ Award Poll. The last tale, “Riding Red Ted and Breathing Fire,” appeared in our April/May 2012 issue. Some of my other favorites included “Master of the Road to Nowhere” (March 2008) and “The Bird Painter in Time of War” (February 2009). I was sorry that she stopped writing, because I would love to have published a dozen more. Carol was born on April 12, 1921, and died on February 2.

Here’s the editorial issue summaries for Analog, and Asimov’s, and the complete Tables of Contents for all three.

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Of Swords & Scrolls: An Interview with Author David C. Smith

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019 | Posted by Joe Bonadonna


David C. Smith, June 2019 delivering the Guest of Honor presentation at Howard Days 2019

Joe Bonadonna introduces David C. Smith

In 1978, before emails and the Internet, I was working on a novella and reading Dave’s excellent first novel, Oron, when I came across a plot device/character trait in his novel that bore a striking similarity to something I had already incorporated into my story. Already a fan of Dave’s, and knowing he knew Charles Saunders, to whom I had sold several short stories for his and Charles de Lint’s excellent Dragonfields, I asked Saunders for Dave’s address; he was still living in his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio at the time. I wrote Dave a letter and he responded almost immediately. From 1978 until early 1996, when he and his wife Janine — who has a graphic design degree and is a very talented illustrator who did the maps for the brand-new, Wildside Press edition of Dave’s Fall of the First World trilogy — moved to Palatine, IL we kept up a steady correspondence that rivaled if not exceeded the lengthy correspondence between Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft. Their move occurred during a time when Dave and I had taken vacations from writing. But during the summer of 1996, I finally persuaded him to work with me on a zombie apocalypse screenplay called Twilight of the Dead (later retitled Children of the Grave), and then we collaborated on what we consider to be a solid screenplay called Magicians, which was based on his two David Trevisan novels: The Fair Rules of Evil and The Eyes of Night. That script did exceedingly well in screenplay competitions and we still have hope that one day it will be optioned by some wise, far-sighted and talented producer or director. (By the way, it was at the late and lamented Top Shelf Books in Palatine, at the monthly author’s live-reading night in 2010, where Dave and I met John O’Neill, the Great Eye of Black Gate.)

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Ghost Ships, High-tech Farming, and Prospecting the Moon: September/October Print Magazines

Wednesday, September 11th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction September October 2019-small Asimov's Science Fiction September October 2019-small Analog September October 2019-small

The big news among magazine fans this month is the spectacular 70th Anniversary issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, which has one of the most impressive line-ups I’ve seen in many years. It contains fiction by Michael Moorcock, Kelly Link, Maureen McHugh, Michael Swanwick, Ken Liu, Esther Friesner, Paolo Bacigalupi, Elizabeth Bear — and one of Gardner Dozois’ last stories. This one will be snatched off the shelf quickly; if you haven’t secured a copy already, I would move quickly.

In his editorial for the issue, C.C. Finlay talks about what really makes the magazine special.

For the past five years, one of my guiding principles as the editor of F&SF has been to find work that still accomplishes those two goals. I scour the submission queue for stories that are fun to read — entertaining, compelling, and well-crafted — with a narrative that pulls you from paragraph to paragraph, page to page, from the first sentence to the final line. At the same time, I’m also hunting for stories that have at least one additional layer to them beyond the surface, something that makes you think, even if it makes you think by making you laugh, that makes you want to discuss the story, to consider the way it reflects our lives and the world we live in. I believe that it’s this particular combination of qualities that has made the stories in F&SF continually feel fresh and relevant in every decade of its existence.

We have a wonderful collection of those kinds of stories for you in this issue as we celebrate the magazine’s seventy years of publication. In typical F&SF fashion, they span the genre from literary fantasy to wuxia adventure, from the near future on Earth to the far future in outer space, from ridiculous satire to thoughtful speculation, from one of the genre’s Grand Masters and some of its most awarded figures to up-and-coming authors, from the debut story of a brand new writer to the final tale from one of science fiction’s greatest writer/editors. Once you add in a couple poems, a special essay from Robert Silverberg, our usual columns and features, and some cartoons, you have an issue that is both like every other issue of F&SF and also something special.

Asimov’s SF and Analog can’t compete with a line-up like that, but they make a good run at it. This is Asimov’s annual “slightly spooky” issue, which is always one of my favorites. The two magazines contain fiction from Andy Duncan, Sandra McDonald, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Lawrence Watt-Evans, Rich Larson, James Sallis, Adam-Troy Castro, Tony Ballantyne, Edward M. Lerner, Norman Spinrad, Brendan DuBois, Michael F . Flynn — and Black Gate blogger Marie Bilodeau! Here’s the complete Tables of Contents for all three.

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Fantasia 2019, Day 10, Part 2: The Born of Woman 2019 Short Film Showcase

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

LiliOn the afternoon of Saturday, July 20, I passed by the De Sève Theatre for the Born of Woman 2019 series of short genre films directed by women. It was the fourth iteration of the showcase, and in four years it’s become a hot ticket; I nearly didn’t get in. But there was just space enough in the end, and so I was able to see the collection of 9 films representing half-a-dozen countries.

The showcase started with “Lili,” a 9-minute piece written and directed by Yfke Van Berckelaer. An actress (Lisa Smit), Lili, comes to audition for a role. The camera’s fixed on her, the man (Derek De Lint) she’s reading for unseen. He seems receptive to what she brings on her first reading, but has her try the dialogue again, and again, pushing her more and more. You can see what’s coming, and what the reversal will be, but the movie works because the slowly pushing-in camera’s a disturbingly effective point of view, because Smit in particular is very good in her part, and because the dialogue’s cleverly and subtly ironic.

The art of sequencing a short film showcase can be overlooked, but in this case the arrangement of the shorts (most of which, in my opinion, were extremely strong to start with) was perfect. A good case in point was following “Lili” with the melancholic “Sometimes, I Think About Dying,” a 12-minute story from director Stefanie Abel Horowitz from a play by Kevin Armento, adapted by Horowitz, Armento, and Katy Wright-Mead, who also stars. It’s the story of Fran (Wright-Mead), a quiet, depressed woman who makes a connection with a male co-worker, Robert (Jim Sarbh). Will she be able to come out of her shell enough to maintain a relationship?

The movie’s almost unbearably painful in its portrait of a woman lacking in self-confidence. At the same time, Fran’s oddly sympathetic, so that by extension Robert feels like a lifeline for her. The orbit of the two of them is well-crafted, and the film really lands solidly because it knows where to end — not just what point of the story, but what seems like the exact right frame of film to end on.

Then different again was Australian writer-director Adele Vuko’s “The Hitchhiker,” about three women driving through the night to reach a music festival. Jade (Liv Hewson), the driver, picks up a hitchhiker (Brooke Satchwell), in part to distract her friends from innocent questions cutting near to a secret Jade doesn’t wish to reveal. The hitchhiker has a secret of her own, though, which only becomes clear once the friends pull in to a roadside bar.

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