Sunday 26 June 2016

New Issue 2016.37

“Oui dehors il pleut mais cette pluie est délicieuse.
Dehors la vie est belle, que diable est-elle dangereuse.”

—HK et les Saltimbanks
[ Issue 2016.37; Cover art © 2016 Eric Asaris ]

Issue 2016.37

E-book versions coming soon

Review this issue on Goodreads

Wednesday 22 June 2016

Interview with Bart & Kay from Crossed Genres

Hidden Youth cover (Julie Dillon)
Our friends over at Crossed Genres Publications (whom someone once described as “justly famous for producing high quality, genre-bending, innovative and inclusive magazine issues, anthologies, and the occasional novel”) are currently running a fundraiser for a new anthology, Hidden Youth: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, edited by Mikki Kendall and Chesya Burke, a follow-up to the acclaimed Long Hidden (which was edited by Rose Fox and Daniel J. Older). They need to raise $23,000 to pay everyone involved fairly, and as usual the rewards, whether electronic or physical copies of the anthologies, stickers or poster prints, or higher echelons such as the opportunity to pick the brains of the publishers, are remarkably good value.

Support the Hidden Youth fundraiser at Kickstarter

Crossed Genres co-publishers Bart R. Leib and Kay T. Holt joined us to answer a few questions about Crossed Genres’ work.

TFF: Long Hidden was an amazing and hugely successful anthology—your fundraiser was big enough to expand it in size and ambition, even add illustrations; the editors were both rising stars, the stories have been widely acclaimed and the anthology was nominated for two major awards. Tell us how this project met and surpassed your expectations.

Long Hidden cover (Julie Dillon)
CG: Long Hidden surpassed pretty much every expectation we had. We thought our initial goal of $12,000 would be tough to reach, and we made it in a week. Stretch goals we never thought would be factors ended up adding 50% more words and interior art. It’s the first title we published to be nominated for a major SFF award (the World Fantasy Award). We knew that this type of story was something a lot of people wanted, but we had no idea how important it was.

How did you decide to follow that up with Hidden Youth?

Funny story. We were driving our son and his cousin somewhere, answering their questions about Long Hidden and our other books, and they flat out asked us when we would make a book for them. We brought their question to social media, and the idea of a YA sequel to Long Hidden emerged almost immediately.

Will the third volume be untold stories of old age? Hidden Elders, perhaps?

That’s not a bad idea! We have several related project ideas, but a third volume might not happen for a long time. (We did already publish a collection of 4 novellas starring older protagonists, called Winter Well.)

Without dwelling on the difficulties or delays, is there anything about the project that you’d like to clarify or inform people about?

We talked about the delays in a blog post. This has definitely been a difficult project, and not just because of the project itself. But we love Hidden Youth and feel it’s very important.

Also, since several people have asked: While Hidden Youth’s protagonists are all under 18, the stories deal with very adult topics. It would not be considered a MG anthology, and possibly not even a YA depending on who you ask. Whether it’s appropriate for kids to read is subjective, and we’d recommend anyone to read it and consider the kid in question before handing it over to them.

What’s the best thing about this project, for you, for the contributors, for the future readers?

For us, one of the very best things about publishing has been accepting authors for their very first publications. That continues with some of the Hidden Youth authors, but Long Hidden and Hidden Youth have taken that a step further: publishing stories where contributors and readers get to see themselves in published stories to extents they never have before.

Interior art from Long Hidden #20
(Artist: Nilah Magruder)
What is the fundraiser paying for? What happens if you don’t make the full amount? What happens if you make more than you’re asking?

Almost all the money we’re raising funds for is to pay the editors, authors and artists. Another portion will go to production and shipping of the book itself, and the other Kickstarter rewards, and the rest will pay the Kickstarter and Amazon fees.

If we don’t make the goal, as per the rules of Kickstarter, we don’t get any of it. And that would mean that Hidden Youth won’t happen, since there’s no way we can afford it otherwise. If we do somehow surpass our goal with time to spare, we’ll consider a stretch goal - we have a few ideas but don’t really anticipate it being a factor. Really, if we reach the primary goal and get to make Hidden Youth, we’ll be ecstatic.

Children are often braver and more determined than adults tend to believe. Do you remember a very courageous thing you did as a child?

Kay: This is a tough subject for me because of my PTSD, but by the time I was old enough to leave home for college, I’d been shot at, hit by trucks, beaten, sexually assaulted, and attacked with knives, usually by men, who could not handle being told NO by a little girl. About anything.

That’s really the best courage I ever had, growing up. Saying no. Loudly and often, even if they came to kill me for it.

And, kind of like the story of my childhood, some stories in Hidden Youth deal with very adult subjects. Including sex, abuse, and violence. This book is about young people, and it is FOR young people, but it will probably be shelved with books for adults in spite of its title.

Interior art from Long Hidden #25 (Artist: Esme Baran)
What’s next for Crossed Genres Publications? Or, if you don’t know yet, what’s your dream project?

We have so many ideas, picking just one would be impossible! We’ve talked about publishing an anthology in two languages - both in the same book. We’d also love to branch into visual stories with a comic anthology (another potential Long Hidden-type project). But we’ll have to see how things go with Hidden Youth, both the funding and the publication, before we decide what Crossed Genres’ next step will be.

Thanks, Bart and Kay, for taking time from your hectic fundraising month to come talk to us.

You can support the Hidden Youth fundraiser at Kickstarter, and pick up an early e- or print copy of the anthology. You won't regret it!

Sunday 5 June 2016

Storm Born teaser and Amy Braun Q&A

We welcome to TFF Amy Braun, author of the new dark fantasy novel Storm Born.

Storm Born, a 354 page standalone novel, is set in an alternate world where humanity endures the Centennial—a barrage of storms that wreck havoc across the world. But as a young woman learns when she’s violently cursed with supernatural powers, there is more to the Centennial than humanity understands, and if she is going to survive its aftermath and the secret societies battling for control, she must find her own courage and strength before her powers destroy her…

Amy Braun is a Canadian urban fantasy and horror author. Her work revolves around monsters, magic, mythology, and mayhem. She started writing in her early teens, and never stopped. She loves building unique worlds filled with fun characters and intense action. She is the recipient of April Moon Books Editor Award for “author voice, world-building and general bad-assery,” and the One Book Two Standout Award in 2015 for her Cursed trilogy. She has been featured on various author blogs and publishing websites, and is an active member of the Writing GIAM and Weekend Writing Warrior communities. When she isn't writing, she's reading, watching movies, taking photos, gaming, and struggling with chocoholism and ice cream addiction.

Question: What was the writing process like for Storm Born?

Amy Braun: In a word? Exhausting. I spent a lot of time thinking, researching, and envisioning new ways to make the story more in depth, and I definitely felt the time crunch of NaNoWriMo. I had a month to plan the story before I started writing, which is nowhere near as much time as it sounds like. Once all that was done, I dove headfirst into writing. New ideas were able to flow and I was able to tweak my original idea so it wasn’t as complex. I definitely had a lot going on, and there are parts that I wish I’d continue to include, but I’m still happy with the story I wrote. It’s too late to go back!

What inspired the design of the Stormkind?

A multitude of things. Aliens, ghosts, cartoons where a character gets zapped and you see their whole skeleton in jarring flashes. My mind goes to some weird places. I made a point to make sure each Stormkind could be identified by the type of storm they mastered. For example, thunder-Stormkind have what one might consider to be electric skin. I wanted it to be clear that even though they have human forms and carry a light against their skeleton, they’re nowhere close to human. I count them among the most creative characters I’ve created thusfar.

What kind of research did you do?

Most of the research went into the settings, to be honest. I’ve never been to Florida and am dreadful with maps, so I had to make sure that my settings and locations were in reasonable locations. GoogleMaps saved me. I also had to research the kinds of storms I could create and what kind of damage they could do so I could adapt that to the story. I based some of the history of the Stormkind on the creation myth from Greek mythology, which was also a lot of fun to re-read.

Which power did you have the most fun writing?

That’s a hard choice. I love the ice-powers and frost, but I was also really fond of the dust-storms that are used later in the novel. It was a fantastic challenge to sit back and think, “This person has this power. What should they do with it now?” Using the destructive powers with Stormkind that controlled water and wind was a lot of fun too, throwing them in situations where I knew their powers would cause serious problems for the heroes.

Thanks for joining us, Amy! Good luck with the release of Storm Born.