Andrea Pawley interviews Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet guest editor Michael J. DeLuca:
Q: The theme of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet Issue 33 is humanity’s relationship with the earth. When you became the issue’s guest editor, did you anticipate you’d get story submissions from the likes of Sofia Samatar and Carmen Maria Machado?
DeLuca: As a matter of fact, I asked them specifically! Along with a handful of others, though those are the only two I solicited whose work appears in the issue. Which is a bit of a cheat, I admit. One of the reasons I love LCRW is how it has been a showcase for new writers. But I felt an imperative to hedge my bets a little, given that it’s a theme issue, and I am not a known brilliant editor like Gavin and Kelly.
Q: LCRW 33 is filled with female perspectives and a strong undercurrent of feminism. What connections do you see between the two and the future in the age of the anthropocene?
DeLuca: Insofar as there is feminism in the issue — and there absolutely is, and I’m very happy that’s the case — I take no credit for it. I’m as feminist as I think any financially solvent white cis American male can reasonably be expected to be, which is to say not as much as I’d like to be or should be. Women’s voices have been and are institutionally tuned out and devalued as much by the literary establishment as everywhere else. But I really didn’t have to make much conscious effort in that direction for the issue to come out the way it did. I solicited work from some amazing women, and I tried to make clear in the submission call that I was interested in points of view other than my own. But for whatever reason, an overwhelming proportion of the submissions came from women. And I don’t really have an explanation for it. Do women have a stronger relationship with the earth than men? Creative women in particular? I could speculate fancifully about Gaea and the sacred feminine, but I fear I’d be wading in too deep.
I’m not a feminist scholar; I’m married to one, but I only manage to osmose so much. What I think I can say is that the future of the anthropocene has to involve a reevaluating and breaking down of traditional narratives of all stripes. And that absolutely must depend upon empowering women to reshape those narratives. The massive, deleterious effect humanity’s trajectory is having on the earth is the direct result of established, patriarchal modes of thought: the capitalist notion of progress, just to name one. And the people best situated to recognize and question those modes of thought are not the people currently situated to benefit from them, but rather the people they hurt: women, minorities, the disenfranchised, the poor.
Q: If you could make the majority of the world do one thing to benefit the future of the planet, what would it be?
I’m a little wary of wish-fulfillment: anything I say is going to be something that could never really happen in a million years. But okay, in the name of speculative fiction, I’ll speculate.
What if everybody, everywhere, tomorrow, stopped using fossil fuels? There’d be enormous fallout. Economic collapse. Just in terms of food distribution — everything’s globalized, my fruit comes from Chile, my walnuts from California. We’d be forced into an incredibly rapid, drastic period of readjustment. Communities would change overnight. A lot of people would starve. A lot of people would have to relearn how to grow their own food. But in the long run — and I don’t think it would be that long, really, a generation let’s say — I think we’d bounce back, and the world would be so much better for it. We’d have learned a lesson. And meanwhile, the whole rest of the world would have bounced back too: forests, watersheds, animal populations, even the ocean.
But can I actually wish for that, knowing the hardship it would cause? Only in fiction.
Q: What do you see as the future of Solarpunk?
I’m curious about that. It’s a very new idea, new enough I hesitate to even call it a movement. Applied broadly, I think it’s a great idea and I really hope it catches on. In other words, if it’s not really so heavily solar-focused, but is used more as a blanket term for all kinds of speculation, technological and otherwise, about where we could go, all taken in a spirit of optimism and play, that could really be amazing. If you think about it as an answer to cyberpunk rather than or not quite so much as steampunk: cyberpunk actually spawned a lot of real advances; it changed the world more rapidly than maybe any other movement in fiction ever has. But it was, for the most part, cynical. And with good reason. Those advances are all pretty amazing: cryptography, mobile technology, virtual currency, social networking. But they’ve led us to some dark places. If solarpunk starts and grows from a place of progressivism and hope — who knows.
Q: What/who are some of your environmental influences?
How about this? In chronological order by how I encountered them:
1. My family. Camping, hiking, hunting, biking, berry picking, swimming, canoeing, fishing, gardening. Predictable, but it’s how we all learn, or don’t learn, to value the natural world.
2. Thornton W. Burgess, a children’s writer of animal stories from Cape Cod. His animals are anthropomorphized to a great degree, but they also keep to their natural routines and in so doing taught me a lot.
3. Ms. Howland, my middle school English teacher. She introduced me to the greenhouse effect, global warming, extinction, pollution, habitat loss, suburban sprawl, all these concepts of modern conservationism. She also taught me how to edit a story.
4. Henry David Thoreau. “Thoreau” was one of my nicknames in high school. He’s blindly optimistic about some things, very narrow in his views about others — he’s a privileged, classically educated white guy from 19th-century New England, after all. But his prose never fails to blow me away, and his observations of the natural world and human nature and the relationship between them are incredibly perceptive and eye-opening even today.
5. . . . Jack London, Ernest Hemingway, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ursula K. Le Guin, John Muir, Carlos Castaneda, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Ray Bradbury, John Crowley, Robert Frost, Kurt Vonnegut, Jon Krakauer, Stephen Harrod Buhner, Paul Stamets, Benjamin Parzybok, Paolo Bacigalupi, Rachel Carson, Mircea Eliade, Werner Herzog, Willa Cather, Elizabeth Dodd, Karen Russell, Karen Joy Fowler. . . .
Note the absurd overbalance of white men. This is my fault, and not because men have or deserve any kind of monopoly on ecological writing or thought. And it’s something I’m trying to correct.
Q: You’re a writer, too. How did that influence what stories you selected for this issue?
Being a writer probably makes me harder to please. Purely idea-based SF doesn’t do it for me anymore, I’ve seen too much of it. Plot-driven fiction has gotten old for me. Likewise, writing that relies on prose fireworks to get away with lack of depth. Because it’s LCRW, there was a certain amount of stylistic consideration that went into my choices — it’s very easy for me at this point, having read many submissions for Gavin and Kelly over many years and also having been a big fan of the final product, to identify an LCRW story. But really, the biggest deciding factor wasn’t about whether it was weird enough or LCRW enough, but just whether it was a good story, whether I got caught up in it, cared about the people in it and felt like it all meant something at the end. To a certain degree, someone who knows how to write and understands the tools of storytelling will be affected in a different way by a story than someone who isn’t in it for the craft. But I think, I hope, a lot of it is universal: the tools for appreciating a good story are written in our bones, right next to the instructions for how to eat and sleep and die and procreate.
Michael J. DeLuca is a fernlike, woody perennial native to the Eastern US, found on hilltops and in woodland clearings from Massachusetts to Michigan. Leaves astringent; strongly tannic; used in teas, to flavor ales and as an aromatic smudge. Flowers late summer in cylindrical catkins. Recent fiction in Ideomancer, Phobos, Betwixt. Tweets @michaeljdeluca.
Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet is An Occasional Outburst, an arrow shot into the future, a harbinger. Edited since 1996 by Gavin J. Grant and Kelly Link. LCRW contributors include many writers whose names you may know and many more whose name you may not — and that there finding and reading unfamiliar voices is one of the joys of existence. Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet is available DRM-free in single issues or in a wide range of subscription options, which may or may not include chocolate.
And just before the end of the first half of the year (stop me if you’ve heard this one, but has time sped up again?) we sent out the latest issue of LCRW. And! We have a new one coming very soon — so soon it will seem almost more like a weekly than an occasional. But the one after that, it’s much further out. Don’t want too much of a good thing! What’s the new one got? A heartbreaker from Jade Sylvan, a surprise from Henry Lein; subscribe here.
Also today: new titles from Aqueduct Press and that’ll be it until tomorrow when we unleash a whole horde of new magazines. See you then!
What sold first? What sold last? I was looking at the 2013 bestsellers and realized I’d meant to post these:
Lightspeed Magazine Annual Subscription
Desirina Boskovich (ed.), It Came from the North: An Anthology of Finnish Speculative Fiction
Rich Horton (ed.), The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy
New York Review of Science Fiction #303
Q: Your non-fiction piece, “How to Seduce a Vegetarian”, appears in the new issue of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet Issue (#29, September 2013). How successful are the vegetarian capture methods you describe?
Kimberling: They are madly successful. Through use of my simple plan, I was personally able to snag a full time vegetarian that I have been cooking for for 27 years now.
Q: What was it like to win the 2008 Lambda Literary Award for Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror for your novel Turnskin?
Kimberling: Well, I was really surprised. I hadn’t even considered the notion that I would win so I didn’t work out a speech or anything and had to resort to stammering out a cute, but incoherent string of “Thank Yous” to random people. I think I also did a little dancey on the stage.
In terms of how it affected me as a writer–I felt a lot more sure of myself after being presented with a glass brick with my name etched into it. Since that time, I haven’t ever suffered from that sort of crippling angst and frustration that afflicts young writers who still feel like they have to prove themselves. So it was really nice. Freed up a lot of mental space.
Q: You write in several formats and genres. Do you have a favorite?
Kimberling: Not really. Each length and genre is fulfilling in different ways. The column I write for LCRW lets me play with language and be philosophical, which is great fun.
The mysteries and romances are interesting to build and execute. Because they’re largely contemporaries, they allow for the sort of observation-based commentary that doesn’t fit well into SF/F writing. (What I mean to say here is that you can’t riff on people’s relationships to their cars in a world that has no cars…and maybe no people.)
And the SF/F stuff allows me to work at the highest degree of difficulty and also to express ideas that are hard to address directly in a contemporary setting without alienating a reader. (I’m talking about big issues here, like race and animal cruelty and things like that.)
Q: Can you offer any advice to people writing novels in a series?
Kimberling: Speaking as an editor who reads a lot of slush–do not plan for a book to be a series. Plan for a book to be a standalone. You can always find a sequel if you really need one.
But if you’re really dead set on writing a series (that is not based on a protagonist who lends herself to episodic storytelling like a detective or mercenary or something) you must have a very explicit plan for how to execute the plot over the intended number of volumes. Otherwise the stories get mushy and indistinguishable from each other–like listening to too many MUSE songs in a row.
I would also suggest that authors intending to write an episodic series have some specific direction for the protagonist to grow so that the intrepid detective (or mercenary or star captain) doesn’t appear to just have had some sort of reset button pushed on her memory directly before the start of every story. Characters who appear to have no capacity to learn from experience get old pretty fast.
Q: Who’s your favorite author?
Kimberling: My favorite author of all time is Douglas Adams. I also really love anything written and drawn by Fumi Yoshinaga. And, of course, I adore all the authors I choose for Blind Eye Books.
Q: What are you working on now?
Kimberling: I’m writing the sixth story in the Bellingham Mysteries, which is a series of contemporary gay comedy-romance novellas set in the town where I live.
In addition to successfully feeding many vegetarians sandwiches in her personal life, Nicole Kimberling specializes in formulating this very same item at the restaurant where she now cooks. A current DRM-free subscription to Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet (including Issue 29) can be purchased on Weightless Books.
Good news! We’re happy to announce that next week—Tuesday if things go well, Thursday is the sickness-that-is-infecting-the-whole-world gets us—we will be adding all the ChiZine Publications books that we can. Readers rejoice! Some of their ebooks are on a delayed schedule for contract reasons but as per usual we will post every book as soon as we can.
More DRM-free ebooks for the world!
You probably noticed that this week we released a new issue of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. This issue has the second of Nicole Kimberling‘s cooking columns. I love these. Tell me what you think. She just handed in her column for the next issue and it is hilarious.
Also this week saw the third and final issue of Fireside Magazine. Subscriptions will be refunded by next week. We were very sorry to hear that this is the last one but we’ll be watching with interest to see what’s next as Brian says on his site: “It looks like we will be launching the Kickstarter for the revamped Fireside early next month. We are still working on a lot of things, but we think we have a sustainable long-term plan, along with a whole bunch of kick-ass writers lined up. We’ll let you know more as we close in on launching.”
And I wanted to point readers towards Peter Kuper’s Drawn to New York: An Illustrated Chronicle of Three Decades in New York City, which looks pretty amazing.
And don’t forget: Tuesday = ChiZine Day!
The new issue of Fireside Magazine with new stories from Elizabeth Bear, Daniel Abraham, and others, just went out.
And, tomorrow the new issue of LCRW, #28, the 4 x 7 issue (or the two fortnights, or the February issue, argh, help me stop going on about 28s) goes out to subscribers and others.
We should also have some more new books from the ever popular Prime Books. See you tomorrow—
Hey, it’s the second Tuesday of the month. Don’t we have a deadline . . . oh wait! It’s time to release the latest installment of The Rifter! Ok people: start your readers! Rifter 7: Enemies and Shadows is now live.
Speaking of subscriptions: Clarkesworld is having a “sort of” subscription drive. There isn’t a discount, but if they reach 500 esubscribers by the end of this month, they will add an extra story to each issue. I think that’s a pretty great reason to subscribe and you can do so here.
In the next couple of weeks we have a few new titles from Small Beer: at last (sorry!) we’ll have the latest issue of LCRW as well as the first ebook (in English, not sure whether they’re available in Spanish) of Argentinean writer Angélica Gorodischer’s to be released in the US: Kalpa Imperial (translated by Ursula K. Le Guin).
Angélica is one of two authors chosen to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the World Fantasy Convention at the end of October (yay!).
The LCRW subscription gets you 4 issues (usually 2 years, as we do two issues per year) which will go out to you as soon as they’re available.The subscriptions are available in the format of your choice (at least, if the format of your choice is one of: PDF, epub, mobi, and lit). We expect to keep offering those formats in the future (unless there’s no uptake on one—it’s like American Idol for ebook formats!).
Subscribe now and get 4 issues in your inbox right as they emerge hot from the virtual presses of Small Beer Press. The subscription will begin with the current issue, No. 26—the paper edition is mailing now.
The regular price of the esubscription edition will be $11.99.
But to celebrate our first subscription and to get things going with a bang we’re offering a 4 issue subscription for . . . $9.95
Today we’re proud to announce that we are the exclusive publisher of the first ebook edition of The Changeling by Joy Williams. The Changeling, Williams’s second novel, was out of print for 30 years before Fairy Tale Review Press brought it back into circulation.
This edition is the full 256-page Fairy Tale Review Press edition with an introduction by by Rick Moody.
Also today we have the new ish of LCRW. The paper edition is going out later this week and electronic subscriptions should be available next week—unless we go nuts and do them tomorrow or something. Michael, who made it all happen, will get beer for this.The new issue is excellent and is available in pdf, epub, etc. This esub machine that Michael has built means we’ll be talking to other serial publishers (i.e. zinesters, magazines, Ginn Hale[!]), about releasing their books/zines/magazines on here.
And, horn tootle, don’t miss last week’s title at the excellent price of 99 cents: a short story by me and Kelly Link originally published in the Australian magazine Altair, “Sea, Ship, Mountain, Sky.”
Next week: we expect to have interesting news about adding another energetic indie press!
Hey, did you see that story on Slate about how “Digital publishing levels the playing field for small publishers“? We had fun talking with Jill Priluck and it was great that she gave a shout out to Featherproof, Small Beer, and, yay!, Weightless.
And to celebrate we added a few things that readers have been asking for—but not everything, otherwise what would we do next week? First there were a bunch of improvements that Michael did on Friday: pages have shorter line-lenghs for increased visibility, there’s a new featured title, we started tagging posts for easier findability, and we did some technical jiggery pokery stuff as well. And we talked to a couple more indie presses whose books we hope to add. We’re hoping to build a tempting palace of wonder made of electrons and indie presses. We’re on our way!
In the meantime, today’s (Tuesday’s, just) update just went up*. First we added four issues of our zine, LCRW, (12, 13, 14, 15). These are all epub/mobi/lit files—but, in a reversal of the normal, no PDF! We also added epubs to most of the rest of the LCRWs: 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24. So now you can get many versions of those issues going back to 2003—It’s old back there!
We also added multiformat (epub/mobi/lit) files to many Small Beer titles including Couch, Meeks, Trash Sex Magic—not going to list all of them, but many, I tell you, many! More TK, but slowly, you know how it is.
And finally (at last!) we added Carol Emshwiller‘s first novel (which is fantastically funny and weirder than ever) Carmen Dog in multiformat (again, no PDFs—maybe later). As with Travel Light, we’ve put Carmen Dog up at a lovely low introductory price of $5.95.
Next week might be the week we get Fairy Tale Review (books and mags) up here—they are amazing, and the pricing is irresistible. The paper edition of the journal is $10-$20 (depends on who’s selling it). Suffice to say the ebooks will be much less. Much! They’re going to be PDFs and I’m not sure if there will be more formats because as with the Featherproof books (have you seen them, they are crazy wonderful designed!) the pages are part of the package. We’ll see. After Fairy Tale, we have more more more. Come back. Tell your friends. Tell us what you think. Thanks for reading!
* Apologies for the delay. I’d love to say it was Scott Pilgrim related, but, sadly, haven’t seen it yet (darn it!). It’s just that the baby is too too much and insists on being played with. Apparently baby trumps computer every time!