Craig Russell on Stories for Earth

SF Canada member Craig Russell was recently interviewed by Forrest Brown on the podcast Stories For Earth. They discuss Craig’s cli-fi novel Fragment and what motivated him to write the story.

When avalanching glaciers thrust a massive Antarctic ice sheet into the open ocean, the captain of an atomic submarine must risk his vessel to rescue the survivors of a smashed polar research station; in Washington the President’s top advisor scrambles to spin the disaster to suit his master’s political aims; and meanwhile two intrepid newsmen sail south into the storm-lashed Drake Passage to discover the truth. Onboard the submarine, as the colossal ice sheet begins its drift toward South America and the world begins to take notice, scientists uncover a secret that will threaten the future of America’s military power and change the fate of humanity. And beneath the human chaos one brave Blue Whale fights for the survival of his species.

Craig Russell’s YA fantasy novel, Black Bottle Man won a Moonbeam gold medal and was an Aurora Award finalist. His SF novel, Fragment was selected for the Yale University Climate Connections reading list and was shortlisted for the Michael Van Rooy Award. Craig grew up on a prairie farm with nine siblings and is now a retired lawyer living in Winnipeg, MB.

For an extended version of this interview and more information about Stories for Earth, visit storiesforearth.com.

Learn more about Craig at craigrussell.info.

Purchase your copy of Fragment at McNally Robinson, Amazon, and other booksellers.

Cait Gordon Interviews Su J. Sokol

SF Canada member Cait Gordon recently interviewed fellow member Su J. Sokol on her new podcast In the ‘Cosm.

Cait started her a podcast as a way to connect with authors she admires during the pandemic. The latest episode is S1 Ep4: From A (as in seeking asylum) to Zee with Su J. Sokol.

Listen via Spotify below, on YouTube with captions, or visit Cait’s website for a full transcript.

Cait Gordon is a humorist, baker, and Irish-Canadian princess living in the Narnia region of Ottawa’s suburbia. She enjoys reading and writing speculative fiction that celebrates the reality of diversity. In her advocacy work, Cait’s goal is to continue to share and elevate the voices of disabled, Deaf, and/or neurodiverse creatives.

Learn more about Cait at caitgordon.com.

Su J. Sokol is a social rights activist and a writer of speculative, liminal and interstitial fiction. Originally from Brooklyn, xe now makes Montréal xyr home. Xyr short fiction has appeared or is upcoming in The Future Fire, Spark: A Creative Anthology, TFFX 10th Anniversary Anthology, Glittership: an LGBTQ Science Fiction and Fantasy Podcast, Glittership: Year One anthology, After the Orange: Ruin and Recovery, and Amazing Stories.

Learn more about Su at sujsokol.com.

Marie Powell on Sci Fi Saturday Night

Today we have a new SF Canada member interview. Marie Powell recently spoke with Sci Fi Saturday Night about about her new series Last Of The Gifted and the first book in this saga, Spirit Sight.

“Those familiar with most of her past work as a children’s author will be quite delighted at the beauty, maturity  and difference in this work. While some have referred to this as YA, I will vociferously disagree. This is the beginning of a wonderfully well written series of novels. Take the time to listen to her, get to know her, read the book and do what we did.”

Listen to the full interview at www.scifisaturdaynight.com.

Learn more about Marie at mariepowell.ca.

Marie Powell’s adventures in castle-hopping and exploring her family roots resulted in her historical fantasy novels, Spirit Sight and Water Sight (Last of the Gifted).  These are just two of Marie’s 40-plus children’s and young adult books with such traditional publishers as Amicus Publishing, Scholastic Education, Lerner/Lightning Bolt, Crabtree and more. Her short fiction and poetry can be found in subTerrain, Room, Transition, and other literary magazines. She is also a professional writer, editor, journalist, and photographer with work published in a variety of formats.

Marie’s children’s books include early readers, middle-grade nonfiction, and science books for young readers. Her young adult novels include fantasy and historical fantasy books. Her articles appear in newspapers, magazines, online and international markets. Her poetry and short fiction have appeared in a variety of literary magazines and anthologies. As well, she provides research and editing services, and loves to do readings and workshops for all ages.

New Interviews with Robert Runté and Lorina Stephens

Another two SF Canada members were recently interviewed online, Robert Runté and Lorina Stephens.

Robert spoke with Todd Sullivan and read his latest short story, “Inuksuk” from Issue #15 of Polar Borealis.

Watch (or listen) to the full interview here:

 

Lorina was interviewed by Gordon Gibb for his radio feature, The Bookshelf, on Kawartha Oldies. They chatted about her latest novel, The Rose Guardian, a story of grief and the power of forgiveness.

Listen to the full interview here:

https://fiveriverspublishing.com/?p=4529

There is a conversation that should have happened between Vi Cotter and her mother. Now it’s too late.

But sometimes the dead speak through the legacy they leave, and in this case Vi’s mother bequeaths her, among other things, her journals. Do we sometimes seek absolution from the grave? Do we seek reconciliation between the child, the woman, the crone?

In a story of unspoken truths and hidden fears, The Rose Guardian explores the cages we make when we fail to unlock our secrets.

 

Dr. Robert Runté is Senior Editor with EssentialEdits.ca, a retired professor (University of Lethbridge), and former Senior Editor for Five Rivers Publishing. As an academic, editor, reviewer, and organizer, Robert has been actively promoting Canadian SF for over forty years. He was a founding Director of NonCon, Context89, and SF Canada; and has served on the Boards of the Edmonton Science Fiction and Comic Arts Society, On Spec Magazine, Tesseract Books, and The Writers Guild of Alberta. In addition to dozens of conference papers, journal articles, book chapters, and a half dozen entries in the Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada , Robert has edited over 150 issues of various SF newsletters.

Lorina Stephens has worked all sides of the publishing desk: writer, editor, publisher. From freelance journalist for regional and national periodicals, to editor of a regional lifestyle magazine and then her own publishing house, she has been in the industry since 1980. Lorina has witnessed publishing evolve into the dynamic form of self-expression which exists today. For 12 years she operated Five Rivers Publishing as a house which would give voice to Canadian authors. Her short fiction has appeared in literary and genre publications, novels under her own house, Five Rivers Publishing, non-fiction under Boston Mills Press and an anthology co-edited with Susan MacGregor, Tesseracts 22: Alchemy and Artifacts.

Nina Munteanu on Minddog TV

SF Canada member Nina Munteanu was recently interviewed by Matt Nappo on Minddog TV in New York, NY. Their conversation covered the science and magic of water, climate change and how to not become cynical, as well as the writing process and what makes for great storytelling.

Keep watching for the scoop on Nina’s eco-novel A Diary in the Age of Water published by Inanna Publications.

Watch the full interview here:

Nina Munteanu is a Canadian ecologist / limnologist and award-winning novelist and short story writer. She is co-editor of Europa SF and currently teaches writing courses at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. Nina has coached writers to publication for several decades using her Alien Guidebook Series writing guides.  Nina’s non-fiction book “Water Is…” by Pixl Press was selected by Margaret Atwood in the New York Times ‘Year in Reading’ and was chosen as the 2017 Summer Read by Water Canada.

Derek Newman-Stille Interviews Marie Bilodeau

SF Canada is pleased to share a new interview from Derek Newman-Stille. They chatted with fellow SF Canada member Marie Bilodeau to find out what it’s like to write horror, as well as multiple speculative genres.

 

Interview with Marie Bilodeau on Writing Horror and Loving She-Ra

By Derek Newman-Stille

 

Derek Newman-Stille: “To start out our interview, can you tell readers a little bit about yourself?”

 

Marie Bilodeau: “I like to dabble in various genres of writing – I write science-fiction, fantasy, and horror, in both long and short forms. I’m also a professional storyteller, which means I stand up in front of audiences and tell either old tales, adapted ones, or some original works. Aside from that, I’m an event manager, a cupcake-lover, have many fluffy cats and love She-Ra. Perhaps am *in* love with She-Ra. …I think that pretty much covers it all.”

 

Derek: “Can you tell us a little bit about what it’s like to write across so many genres?”

 

Marie: “Certainly! It’s amazing! So, each genre is very firmly speculative fiction, meaning that there’s an element in it (usually in the world) that’s not quite of our world. It’s that worldbuilding aspect that I thoroughly love. In fantasy, you get to hurl fireballs. In science fiction, you can have space ships! In horror, monsters lurk in the shadows. And, best of all, you can have all of those things in the story and let the market figure it out!”

 

Derek: “Your science fiction often takes on horror elements as does your fantasy (I’m thinking specifically about your fairy tale work) – what generated your interest in horror and do you notice elements of it in your other work?”

 

Marie: “Horror is an amazing tool, because it’s so versatile. It can frighten, shock, repulse…it doesn’t matter, as long as it draws a reaction, often a visceral one. In my fairy tale inspired serialized novel, Nigh, I used horror in the tradition of fairy tales, often to warn, or correct behaviour. Which meant it also took on tones of existential horror, which you get at the heart of some stories, like Sleeping Beauty. Sure, she gets woken up. But, wait, she’s been sleeping for how long? Her world is gone? Not to mention all the other stuff that happens, depending on the version. That thread of horror isn’t often outright stated, but the reader often experiences it on an existential level. I have a short story coming in Jennifer’s Brozek’s 99 Tiny Terrors this year. It’s purely existential. Nothing happens except making tea and chatting with an old friend. But it’s visceral in what the reader knows, regardless of how the characters deal with it. That’s what makes horror so wonderful. It’s visceral, and often relies on universal experiences and archetypes to hit its target: the human heart.”

 

Derek: I can’t wait to read it!! I love existential horror! Horror has this amazing ability to unsettle the ordinary. Do you tend to use it to unsettle things and open unquestioned things up to questions?

 

Marie: “Definitely! With horror, as with any genre, you can get your reader to really question their own worldview (or find it reinforced!) But, to make it successful, the trick (which isn’t always easy to pull off), is not to outright state what you’re questioning. You have to craft the story in such a way that the reader ends up asking the question. That’s when you know you’ve hit home. The reader incorporated the story enough, lived in it, even in a brief piece of flash fiction, to inhabit it and see what was provided and, more importantly, what wasn’t mentioned at all. It means the story is now part of the reader, in the questions you’ve forced them to face. It’s one of the genres that benefits the most from a fine glitter dust highlighting just the right details.”

 

Derek: Relatedly, one of the things that I love about your sci fi is that no matter how alien your aliens are, they fundamentally say something about what it is like to be human. Can you tell us a bit about how you use the alien to comment on human experiences?

 

Marie: “That’s one of my favorite things! First, aliens are super fun to build! Like, how will you work? What culture propels you? What part of history got you to this point? How do you eat your food? DO YOU EVEN EAT! OMG you like music? But only as it shifts the tectonic plates of your volcanic world? BE MY VALENTINE, you amazing alien you!

…But I digress. Aliens and different societies allow us freedom from current political, cultural and religious human realities and offers a blank canvas upon which to draw our tale. I especially love using them in my short stories. For example, my “Out-of-Worlds-Planet-Cessation Extravaganza” story in Amazing Stories is funny with cool aliens and solid event management techniques, but it’s all about how the “bling” of things can get in the way of basic humanity. In my Analog short story “Molecular Rage,” I wanted to show how someone not fitting in due to random (and cruel) determinations can hurt not just the ostracized individual, but their entire family and culture. Also, how it’s generally a shitty thing to do.

Both those things could have been done in our world, with plenty of examples to (sadly) go around, but often I find the reader to be more receptive to something when they don’t start putting up personal listening walls because of their own set of beliefs.

It’s a flip from horror, in a way. In horror, you want to use the visceral common experience to strike home. Whereas in this case, striking home means taking them out of a common experience by placing them amongst aliens, and using shadows of our world to keep the darkest places familiar. The reader can then cast their own light there, and come to their own conclusions.”

 

Derek: Do you find that your stories are influenced by current issues and events? What are some events that have inspired you to fictionalize them and imagine their possibilities in other worlds?

 

Marie: “Definitely! Okay, so there are the Big Ideas and Big Events, which I think lots of people tackle super well and because they’re big ideas, lots of people use them in their fiction. They’re thematic, and often should be!

What I love best, however, are small ideas. I love taking things that amuse me, fascinate me, just make me damn curious, and writing about those.

For example, the Fyre Festival was an amazing failure of event management. I watched it go down live, glued to my screen in fascination. When the two documentaries came out, we invited friends over, made tiny cheese and arugula open-faced sandwiches for snacks, and watched them back-to-back. They created a fuller picture which was amazingly bad. I laughed, and flinched, so much. Anyway, out of that came the idea for “Out-of-Most-Worlds Planet Cessation Extravaganza.” It wasn’t a retelling of the Fyre Festival (nothing could top the original!), but it was inspired by it. A small idea, about bling blinding event managers to the impact of their vision (in this case, how it affected the island inhabitants).

It’s a small thread in a giant messy ball of crazy yarn that I pulled out of that story, but it worked for my writing voice.”

 

Derek: “What are some of the other small ideas that have influenced some of your work?”

 

Marie: “I lump family stories into small ideas (because they have a more personal reach, I suppose?), and have used quite a few in my works! Nigh is a bit of a retelling of one of my family legends, for example. My Irish great grandmother, Mary Grant, had a sister named Alexandrine (or cousin? Some close relative, anyway). My dad gave me Alexandrine’s old pocket watch a few years back, along with its mystery. We know she was engaged to the gentleman who gave her this watch, but they were never married. And we have no idea why. She kept this watch to her dying day (after a long life) and passed it down the family line until it became mine. Why would she keep it? Did the young man die? Did he vanish? What happened?

Out of that family legend I imagined Hector Henry Featherson, a World War I soldier in the throes of PTSD who steps into a fairy circle a hundred years ago only to step back out now, finding his world and love gone, but still able to make a difference…

I see those little ideas as more personal, I suppose, and more unique to each individual.”

 

Derek: I love the way an object can inspire a story. I know that Ray Bradbury used to use objects around his office to inspire stories. Do you find that you often use objects as inspiration for new narratives?

 

Marie: “I love ephemeral objects as part of my writing process. Things that are here for the duration of the story. A marked change in my writing space, welcoming the new story to tea. For the Destiny series, my main character was a florist, and I’d get flowers for my writing room. For some stories, I just change the lights on my keyboard to a specific pattern (I have a fast and fancy gaming keyboard). I used to switch locations completely at times, like going to a convent to write (when leaving the house was a thing). Failing that, I now cater my little writing space for each story. So, I guess it’s not so much as items necessarily inspiriting the tale, but more items helping to create the right atmosphere for the story.”

 

Derek: You mentioned that you also do storytelling work. How has the current pandemic climate changed that kind of work for you?

 

Marie: It’s honestly blown it completely up! There are online storytelling gigs, but love having the audience in the room with me. They’re a part of the story. Their reactions inform how I tell the story. Their energy feeds me. I’d prefer waiting for those moments of magic to be possible again then try to capture a fraction of it online. Some people pull it off spectacularly well! But it’s not the teller I am. I’m hoping that vaccinations will make spooky tellings possible this fall. It’s my favourite telling time of the year!

 

Derek: You know I have to ask about your love of She-Ra. What inspired your adoration of her and has she inspired any characters in your own stories?

 

Marie: “I loved watching She-Ra as a teen. She was kickass, wore heels and a cape, was kind and a healer, fought an evil empire, rode a magical flying unicorn…what more could I ask for??? I loved that she represented strength, while still being feminine. That she wielded a sword and still healed. It was an example I desperately needed and craved as a kid. And I was just as inspired by the new She-Ra!

I haven’t based a character on her per say, but she inspires that dichotomy, that contrast in characters. No one is all good or all bad. Even warriors can have a soft touch. And everyone deserves a winged unicorn (though I’ve yet to write one in a story).

 

Derek: As we finish up our interview, is there anything you want to add or tell readers about yourself? Are there any current projects you are working on that you can tell us about?

 

Marie: The third book in The Guild of Shadows series, Hell Bound, is currently available for preorder, and it’s going to be another crazy fun adventure. With lots of death, but lots of giggles, too! I’ve also got another project I love, Wishstamp, which I invite you all to check out (www.wishstamp.com).

 

Marie Bilodeau is an Ottawa-based author and storyteller, with eight published books to her name. Her speculative fiction has won several awards and has been translated into French (Les Éditions Alire) and Chinese (SF World). Her short stories have also appeared in various anthologies. In a past life not-so-long ago, she was Deputy Publisher for The Ed Greenwood Group (TEGG). Marie is also a storyteller and has told stories across Canada in theatres, tea shops, at festivals and under disco balls. She’s won story slams with personal stories, has participated in epic tellings at the National Arts Centre, and has adapted classical material.

 

Derek Newman-Stille, MA, PhD ABD (They/Them) is a Disabled, Queer, Nonbinary activist, author, artist, academic, and editor. They edited the anthologies Over the Rainbow: Folk and Fairy Tales from the Margins (Exile) and We Shall Be Monsters (Renaissance Press) and are the 8 time Prix Aurora Award-winning creator of the digital humanities hub Speculating Canada. Derek has published in fora such as Uncanny Magazine, The Playground of Lost Toys, Quill & Quire, Fireside Magazine, Diamond Book Shelf, The Town Crier, Exile Quarterly, and Nothing Without Us. Derek’s art work has been published in fora such as Feminist Space Camp, Lackington’s, Postscripts to Darkness, and Aging Activisms.