5 Questions for Fran Wilde

Kickstarter Creators Last month at the Nebula Conference, I had the honor of filling an hour of Fran Wilde’s time with questions about everything from how to celebrate successes in a writing career (her rewards sometimes involve socks) to the minutiae of social media to juggling work and family, which she does with grace.

As if she hadn’t been generous enough, I thanked her by asking if I could interview her for this blog. I’m so very glad she said yes.

Fran Wilde’s novels and short stories have been finalists for four Nebula Awards, a World Fantasy Award, and two Hugo Awards, and include her Nebula- and Compton-Crook-winning debut novel Updraft, its sequels Cloudbound, and Horizon, her 2019 debut Middle Grade novel Riverland, and the Nebula-, Hugo-, and Locus-nominated novelette The Jewel and Her Lapidary. Her short stories have appeared in Asimov’sTor.comBeneath Ceaseless SkiesShimmerNature, and the 2017 Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror.

She writes for publications including The Washington PostTor.comiO9.com, Clarkesworld, and GeekMom.com.

You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, and at franwilde.net.

Her newest book is Riverland:

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Riverland: When things go bad at home, sisters Eleanor and Mike hide in a secret place under Eleanor’s bed, telling monster stories. Often, it seems those stories and their mother’s house magic are all that keep them safe from both busybodies and their dad’s temper. But when their father breaks a family heirloom, a glass witch ball, a river suddenly appears beneath the bed, and Eleanor and Mike fall into a world where dreams are born, nightmares struggle to break into the real world, and secrets have big consequences. Full of both adventure and heart, Riverland is a story about the bond between two sisters and how they must make their own magic to protect each other and save the ones they love.

You can pick up a copy of Riverland from Amazon: https://amzn.to/2EJTrwR

Did something in the real world inspire Riverland?

Riverland is a portal fantasy — and like most portal fantasies, it exists so that the main characters — Eleanor and Mike — can work something out in a place that is (frighteningly) safer than their own world. It’s about magic, real and not, and family. What inspired it was the sense that many stories, especially on television and in movies, talk about children living through violent households as if they have no agency, no ability to participate in their own lives, and their own rescue. (You can see that a lot in the shorthand that shows like Law & Order uses.) I wanted to write a book where young girls get to be — in no particular order — angry, wrong, right, strong, weak, and heroes.

I think everything in the current world inspired that need.

What is your favorite scene in the book?

My favorite scenes are when Eleanor begins to tell her story, when Pendra follows Eleanor, and when Dishrag gets his heart’s desire. That last one is a rush of hooves pounding and smoke curling and utter, total determination to live up to your dreams, even if you’ve always been told you couldn’t.

What was your writing process like as you wrote the book?

Two parts panic, one part determination, and a lot of terrible drafts, with puns everywhere. There was also a heap of lying about on furniture worrying that I wasn’t good enough to finish this one. And many supportive phone calls and emails from friends that I was and could.

What was the best thing that happened during your promotion of the book?

The letters from readers thanking me for writing it, in exactly the way I wrote it.

What do you have planned next?

Classroom visits (in person and on Skype) to talk about Riverland. A second middle-grade book that’s almost entirely contemporary. A book of poetry. The final novella in the gemworld series. And several more novels.

The Fire Opal Mechanism, the second gemworld book after The Jewel and Her Lapidary, came out from Tor.com on June 4. I’m also taking over the position of Director of the Genre Writing MFA Program at Western Colorado University this summer — which is very exciting!


The Fire Opal Mechanism: Jewels and their lapidaries and have all but passed into myth.
Jorit, broke and branded a thief, just wants to escape the Far Reaches for something better. Ania, a rumpled librarian, is trying to protect her books from the Pressmen, who value knowledge but none of the humanity that generates it. When they stumble upon a mysterious clock powered by an ancient jewel, they may discover secrets in the past that will change the future forever.

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How Collaboration Worked for Lost Angels

Lost-Angels-Cover-Front-SmI’m doing the final push to finish the sequel to our succubus/angel novel, so I was thinking about how Brian and I wrote the original manuscript that would become Lost Angels and the upcoming Angelus Rose.

Brian and I tried to get together in person once a month or so to write.  I would fly in and out of Burbank or Brian would fly in and out of SFO, but our process was pretty much the same: Brian would pace and I would type and the story just poured out of us.

One of the most intense experiences was the weekend we wrote the chapter where Lorelei is dropped off by some fiends beside the LA River.  I’d written the stuff where Lorelei crosses the trickle of water and climbs down into a storm drain to confront Asmodeus, her boss and the prince of LA.

I remember sitting on Brian’s enormous rock-hard futon with my laptop across my legs.  I read the unfinished scene to him, up to Asmodeus’s attempt to exorcise the mortal girl’s soul from Lorelei’s infernal flesh.

“I don’t know what to do next,” I told him.  “The exorcism can’t work yet, because we’re only halfway through the book.  But I don’t know why someone so powerful couldn’t do something as simple as exorcize a human girl from a devil.”

“Okay.  Let me think.”  Brian started pacing around the room.  Slowly, but with increasing speed, he began to dictate.

It was amazing.  I’m a pretty fast typist, but I couldn’t keep up. It all came out: description, action, dialogue. He had to wait for me to catch up.  At times, we debated events. I snarked and added asides, punctuation, paragraph breaks.

We’d go until Brian got stuck, then I’d read back what we’d written.  We took breaks to walk over to Billy’s Deli for a pastrami sandwich and a chocolate egg creme, or to poke around Brand Books, or to run up to Griffith Observatory to watch the sunset.

Eventually we’d end up back in his room, the laptop open, hammering out more of that chapter.

I’m not sure how many thousands of words we wrote that weekend.  We got out of the botched exorcism through Lorelei and Ashleigh running across the 5 to the two of them climbing the hill up toward Dodger Stadium.

We wrote stuff where Lorelei and Ashleigh confront Yasmina. The elder temptress offers Ashleigh elevation to succubus, if only she’ll betray Lorelei.  It’s the turning point of all three characters.

The whole experience felt incredible.  We seemed to be channeling lightning.

Angelus Rose mockup CoverThere’s no possible way I could have written those scenes myself.  They relied entirely on Brian’s familiarity with LA’s geography, flora, and history. I don’t know that he’d actually walked the path our girls took — minus the jog across the freeway — but I know he’d explored thoroughly enough that I could rely on his research.

And that was pretty much our pattern as we hammered out that massive first draft.  I’d write us into a corner — say, LAPD pulling Lorelei and Tuan over on the highway — and then Brian would dictate us out.

I don’t know if the process would ever work for collaborating with anyone else, but it was magic for us.

Angelus Rose will be out in August.

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5 Questions for Emerian Rich

emz1smallEmerian Rich is a kindred soul, albeit with a much better fashion sense than mine. We’ve gone to conventions together, we’ve poked around graveyards together… This year we’re going to the Sinister Creature Con together!

I interviewed Emerian in 2017 about her book Dusk’s Warriors. She’s got a brand-new anthology out, so it was time to talk again.

Emerian Rich is the author of the vampire book series Night’s Knights and writes romance under the name Emmy Z. Madrigal. Her romance/horror cross over, Artistic License, is about a woman who inherits a house where anything she paints on the walls comes alive. She’s been published in a handful of anthologies by publishers such as Dragon Moon Press, Hidden Thoughts Press, Hazardous Press, and White Wolf Press. She is the podcast Horror Hostess of HorrorAddicts.net.

Her new book is Kill Switch: A Horror Anthology, edited with Dan Shaurette:

As technology takes over more of our lives, what will it mean to be human, and will we fear what we’ve created? What horrors will our technological hubris bring us in the future? Join us as we walk the line between progressive convenience and the nightmares these advancements can breed. From faulty medical nanos and AI gone berserk to ghost-attracting audio-tech and one very ambitious Mow-Bot, we bring you tech horror that will keep you up at night. Will you reach the Kill Switch in time? Edited by Dan Shaurette and Emerian Rich, with authors Chantal Boudreau, Garth von Buchholz, Bill Davidson, Jerry J. Davis, Dana Hammer, Laurel Anne Hill, Naching T. Kassa, Tim O’Neal, H.E. Roulo, Garrett Rowlan, Phillip T. Stephens, and Daphne Strasert.

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Did something in the real world inspire Kill Switch, A Horror Anthology?

Yes, actually: the scary prospect before us of wanting to create a technologically convenient world, but at the same time building machines that have the possibility of ruining, running, or destroying our lives. When Dan Shaurette brought the idea of tech horror to my attention, I was all in.

What is your favorite scene in the book?

There are so many terrifying scenarios in this book, it’s hard to choose, but one of my favorite stories in the book is called “Mow-Bot.” It’s about a guy who buys Roomba-like mower that will do his most hated chore for him so he can enjoy his weekend instead of spending it gardening. Everything is hunky dory until the neighbor’s cat disappears and he finds fur stuck in the Mow-Bot’s wheel. This story is so “right-now” you can imagine it really happening today.

My story in the book is called “SoulTaker 2.0” and is about a game programmer in the final stages of launching a new version of the MMORPG “SoulTaker,” who finds out his employer is actually REAPING souls digitally.

What was your editing process like as you put the book together?

At HorrorAddicts.net Press, we work as a team. We have a four-person submissions team. Once the top stories are chosen, we have two people edit in depth and connect with the authors. When we are ready to go to print, our whole press reads the work, which is about five people.

What was the best thing that happened during your promotion of the book?

This is going to sound a little sad, but the best thing hasn’t happened yet. Let me explain. Our previous Head of Publishing, Dan Shaurette, thought up this book theme a few years ago and was so enthusiastic about it. Last year, he suffered a medical trauma which made him unable to complete it. We decided to go ahead and complete his dream of publishing this book. The fact that we have finished it for him makes me sad that he was not able to be involved very much, but it also fills me with happiness that we could see it through. The best thing about this book promotion will be when I am able to hand him the print copy when I see him this summer and watch the elation in his face as he realizes his dream has come true.

What do you have planned next?

Our next submissions call is for Dark Divinations, which is a horror anthology involving Victorian-era divination stories. It closes Halloween 2019. All the submission requirements can be found here: https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/current-submission-calls/

Pick up a copy of Kill Switch from Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Qzdgvv

Or check out HorrorAddicts.net Press: http://www.horroraddicts.net    

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SF in SF

Screen Shot 2019-04-09 at 12.44.56 PMJoin us this Sunday, June 9th, for a lively evening in celebration of Tales for the Camp Fire: A Charity Anthology Benefiting Wildfire Relief.
Doors and bar open at 6:00PM
Event begins at 6:30PM
Authors Nancy Etchemendy and E.M. Markoff join editor Loren Rhoads to read and discuss their new book, which is raising money for survivors of last year’s devastating wildfire in Butte County, California.


Nancy Etchemendy’s novels, short fiction, and poetry have appeared regularly for the past 40 years, both in the US and abroad. Her work has earned a number of awards, including three Bram Stoker Awards and an International Horror Guild Award. Cat in Glass and Other Tales of the Unnatural, her collection of short dark fantasy, was named an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. She lives and works in Northern California, where she leads a somewhat schizophrenic life, alternating between unkempt, introverted writer/photographer/gardener and gracious (she prays) wife of an eminent Stanford professor.

Award-winning Latinx author E.M. Markoff writes stories about damaged heroes and imperfect villains. Her novels include To Nurture & Kill and The Deadbringer, which Booklist described as “A fantastic action-adventure, tinged with Mexican folklore, that will appeal to fans of A Game of Thrones.

Loren Rhoads served as editor for Bram Stoker Award-nominated Morbid Curiosity magazine as well as the books The Haunted Mansion Project: Year Two, Death’s Garden: Relationship with Cemeteries, and Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues: True Tales of the Unsavory, Unwise, Unorthodox, and Unusual. Her short stories have appeared in Best New Horror #27, Strange California, Sins of the Sirens: Fourteen Tales of Dark Desire, Fright Mare: Women Write Horror, and most recently in Weirdbook, Occult Detective Quarterly, and Space & Time.


SFbanner01For over a decade SF in SF has offered readings, films, and special events in the Bay Area for readers of science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction. Hosted by Terry Bisson, past guests have included Connie Willis, Gene Wolfe, Laurie King, Nancy Kress, Lev Grossman, Patrick Rothfuss, Cory Doctorow, Peter S. Beagle, and many others. We hope you will join us!

$10 at the door (but no one is turned away for lack of funds). As always, Borderlands Books will be on hand with copies of all of the authors’ work.

The American Bookbinders Museum is located at 355 Clementina Street, San Francisco, California 94107.
For more information, email Rina Weisman at sfinsfevents@gmail.com.
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5 Questions for Martha Allard

mart photoMartha Allard is my oldest friend.  We wrote together in high school.  We’ve written a couple of space opera short stories together, which you can find on Wattpad. I interviewed her here last year about her novel Black Light, which combines 1980s rock-n-roll with ghosts and psychic vampires. Trust me when I tell you that you would love it.

Over the years, I’ve been awed by the jewel-like precision of Martha’s short stories. I was thrilled when she put them together into a collection.  They are gorgeous, perfect, and sharp as icepicks.

Martha J Allard is a writer of contemporary and dark fantasy. Her short fiction has appeared in magazines like Talebones and Not One of Us. Her story “Dust” won an honorable mention in Year’s Best Science Fiction, 19th edition,  and her story “Phase” was nominated for a British Science Fiction Award. Her novel Black Light is a tale of love, sacrifice, and rock and roll in the 1980s. Her short story collection Psychic Surgery is about love and magic in unexpected places.

Psychic Surgery

Psychic Surgery is a collection of stories about being lost and being found. They are myths retold through the lens of a new century. Here you’ll find a koi-girl and her grandfather, living in a stream in the mountains of Tennessee, waiting to become more. There are a pair of bickering celestials in a dive bar that exists in any city in the world, at any given time. A guardian of the moon, out of a job, and trying to care for his daughter the best he can on the streets of Flint, Michigan. Angels, fairies, vampires, and junkies fill these pages, but most of all, you’ll find magic.

Did something in the real world inspire Psychic Surgery?

This is a collection of fifteen short stories. each of which contains a kernel of the real world. I am a true believer in the magic around us.

One story in particular, “End of An Era,” grew out of a conversation I had with a friend, while we were driving around LA one day in the late ’80s. He told me that everyone that lived there had an earthquake plan, you know, for when the Big One came. He told me that his was to go to Errol Flynn’s grave in Forest Lawn. There was scotch buried with Flynn, he told me. If the quake had opened the grave, my friend planned to drink a toast. And I thought, but what if you aren’t the first one to show up?

What is your favorite scene in the book?

My favorite story is “Phase,” the very last one. It’s a fairy tale about the daughter of the Moon living homeless on the streets of Flint, Michigan. Her father, who was the Moon’s guardian, tries to connect with her. They are both creatures lost in this world. This is how it starts out.

“The thing is, nobody remembers the real story. Each generation puts their own meaning to it. Truth gets lost in the swift current of human needs.

Once the moon was a beautiful woman. She lived in a land of starlight, isolated from the Earth, safe….”

What was your writing process as you wrote the book?

My writing process was… slow. Each of these stories were written at different points in my life. There are a few Clarion workshop stories here and when I read them, I can almost taste the beer and caffeine that fueled that six weeks. Some were written after I had moved back from Michigan away from my family of friends, and I can feel the loneliness in them. They have been published here and there over the years, but I thought it was time to put them all together.

What was the best thing that happened during your promotion of the book?

So far the best thing that’s happened is that you are interviewing me. I also really like to sell books face to face. I sold one last week during a crochet class I was giving. Yes, you heard me right.

What do you have planned next?

Barring act of gods, I will have the prequel to Black Light out by the end of June. It’s about Albrecht Christian and the first love of his life, the Loch Ness monster. After that, is “Speak My Name,” which is a romance about the space between heaven and hell. It features the characters from two stories in this collection, “Wings of Brothers” and “Ithuriel’s Kiss.”

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Follow Martha on Amazon to keep up with her new work:  Amazon author page

Her homepage is MarthaJAllard.com
Twitter: @Norabell and Facebook Martha Allard
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