Four Questions for Ginn Hale

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    Champion of the Scarlet Wolf Book TwoWe asked Blind Eye Books publisher Nicole Kimberling to catch up with award-winning author Ginn Hale:

    Compared to the slew graphomaniacs currently populating the internets, Ginn Hale is a slow writer. She only releases a book every few years, so each time I get a manuscript from her I’m overcome with excitement. Ginn has a big imagination and a great knack for writing a nail-biter with LGBT protagonists.  As I’m fascinated with the way writers think, I wanted to ask her a few questions.

    1. One of the things you seem to enjoy most is breaking rules (for example, Blind Eye Books Guidelines!) and reimagining tropes. What about that do you find so pleasing?

    I don’t go out of my way to break rules, really! I actually try to stick as close to guidelines as possible. But every now and then I find myself thinking about a fictional subject or situation that strikes me as absurd, annoying or cliché and wondering if there is ANY circumstance that could make it seem reasonable, clever or new.  Rarely I come up with something and then I feel like, after putting in all that time and thought I really have to write about it.Rifter 1: The Shattered Gates

    In fact it was my own annoyance at fantasy books overflowing with egalitarian talking animals that led me to write the character of Ji in the Rifter books.

    I think on some level I just enjoy challenging my own assumptions.

    2. Your recent book, Champion of the Scarlet Wolf is a sequel to Lord of the White Hell Books One and Two, yet you’ve chosen to follow a secondary character rather than stick with the original protagonists. Why is that?

    Lord of the White Hell Book OneLord of the White Hell is written from the point of view of Kiram Kir-zaki, a mathematically gifted seventeen year old, who’s a little spoiled by his wealthy parents and widely accepted by his own minority community. The first two books follow his adventures in the less open-minded society of an elite boys-school, where he builds machines, battles a curse, and wins the devotion of a duke! It was all very fun and I loved writing Kiram’s youthful insights as well as his snarky, teen-age thoughts.

    But for the next two books I really wanted to show the world from a different point of view.  The events of the war I planned to write about didn’t really suit Kiram’s voice or character. For that I needed some one physically stronger, more politically involved and way less likely to solve the whole conflict with a slide rule!

    Lord of the White Hell Book TwoFortunately I tend to massively overbuild the worlds and characters I write about. While the majority of details and backstories never make it into a manuscript, this once I realized that I’d already created the perfect character to carry the second set of books. Elezar, with his mysteriously scarred thigh, immense physical courage and internal conflict was like a small war in himself. His complex relationship with both Javier and Kiram allowed me to write about the two of them from a new perspective and perhaps most importantly, he’s the one character who’d shelter a filthy, emaciated mutt in a city of witches and wily shapeshifters.

    3. Lord of the White Hell Books One and Two were picked up for Japanese release by Chuokoron Shinsha. What was it like working with a Japanese translator?

    I was fortunate enough to work with a really delightful translator — Fumiyo Harashima.  Not only did she know the details of my books better than I did, but she took great care in weighing what should be translated directly and what ideas, jokes and turns of phrase needed more idiomatic equivalents. Our discussions ranged from which words to write in katakana — such as the characters names — to Spanish J’s, and Arabic R’s.

    She even dedicated serious thought to the many goofy puns I slipped into the manuscript. I particularly remember feeling embarrassed when she approached me about the  “Goldenrod Inn”, which was the name of a brothel catering to wealthy students. When I confessed that the name was a childish play on words — Goldenrods=rich dicks — I half-expected her to roll her eyes or quit, but instead she seemed delighted, as she’d suspected something of that sort. And she set to work preserving my puerile humor.

    I couldn’t have wished for a better translator!

    4. What’s next for Ginn Hale?

    This is a really hard question to field… I have an idea about a semi-aquatic 1920’s world rolling around in my head but I never know until I start really plotting out a story . . . There’s always a chance that I’ll see some new prohibition on a publisher’s guideline and be inspired in my usual contradictory manner!

    January 2016 Bestsellers

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    9/10 January bestsellers were subscriptions! The one individual magazine on the list was the January Locus, which had interviews with Mary Rickert and Charlie Jane Anders — so no wonder that was popular. The February issue is always a big seller too since it includes the Recommended Reading lists and has all the many and varied wide-ranging year-end reviews in it. Remember: anyone can vote in the Locus poll.

    Otherwise the list is a fascinating look at the current expansion in the range and type of (mostly sf&f) magazines available. Mothership Zeta, from the very popular Escape Artists podcast publisher, is the newest magazine to quickly hit our bestseller list. Between them, Galaxy’s Edge, Flash Fiction Online, Uncanny, and Forever, fully half of January’s top ten bestsellers didn’t exist 3-4 years ago! Even Clarkesworld is only 10 years old and Beneath Ceaseless Skies is coming on eight which shows, at least on this indie ebookstore, the scope of editorial visions available now at the click of a button.

    Somewhat related to the above: the full range of what is published is not always reflected by reviewers, sometimes purposefully, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies editor and publisher Scott H. Andrews had a great series of storified tweets on that subject (as Storified by Michael):

    January 2016 Weightless Bestseller List

    1. New York Review of Science Fiction
    2. Mothership Zeta Magazine
    3. Galaxy’s Edge Magazine
    4. Uncanny Magazine
    5. Clarkesworld Magazine
    6. Beneath Ceaseless Skies
    7. Flash Fiction Online
    8. Interzone
    9. Locus January 2015 (#660)
    10. Forever Magazine

    Flash Fiction Online Issue #29 February 2016 cover - click to view full size Forever Magazine Issue 13 cover - click to view full size Mothership Zeta Magazine – Issue 2 cover - click to view full size Uncanny Magazine Issue 8 cover - click to view full size

    Galaxy’s Edge Magazine: Issue 18, January 2016 – Featuring Leigh Bracket (scriptwriter for Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back) cover - click to view full size Locus January 2016 (#660) cover - click to view full size Interzone #262 cover - click to view full size

    Instabestseller: Letters to Tiptree

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    Letters to Tiptree cover - click to view full sizeI’m very happy to report that Twelfth Planet Press’s anthology Letters to Tiptree is an instabestseller here on Weightless. You can read three of the letters from Alexandra Pierce and Alisa Krasnostein’s celebration of Alice Sheldon’s 100th birthday (links below) and then you can come here and pick it up for just 99 cents!

    Nicola Griffith – read online at LA Review of Books

    Gwyneth Jones – read online at Strange Horizons

    Brit Mandelo – read online at Tor.com

    Bonus LCRW subscription for one and all!

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    Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet No. 33 cover - click to view full sizeFirst, not to bury the lede: We’re celebrating moving to our new webhost, Dreamhost, with a special that will run all month:

    Buy any ebook on our lovely DRM-free indie ebookstore WeightlessBooks.com between 12 a.m. February 1 and 11:59 p.m. February 29(!) 2016 and receive a free 4-issue LCRW subscription (worth $9.95!). If you’re already a subscriber, you will receive a 4-issue subscription extension. And if you buy an LCRW subscription, this will basically double it, but this offer applies to any ebook bought from this store this month.

    (If you’d rather not receive this bonus, please email us, thank you.) The bonus LCRW subscription will be added to your Library in the first week of March.

    Why? We had an awful experience at the end of the year when our previous webhost dropped the site for a whole week. When we asked about back ups, they said the back ups were in the same place as the actual site . . . and could not be reached. Which means they were nonfunctioning backups. Not impressive.

    So now we have signed with Dreamhost who promise 99.9% or higher(!) levels of uptime and it is time to celebrate and thank all the readers who choose Weightless!

    Here are some recent bestsellers as a place to start:

    ——

    Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin

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    Hope you will consider backing this if you can!

    Dozens of letters for a dollar!

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    Letters to Tiptree cover - click to view full sizeTwelfth Planet Press have put their anthology Letters to Tiptree (edited by Alexandra Pierce and Alisa Krasnostein) on sale for just 99 cents. Tiptree was a fascinating writer — Julie Phillips’s James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon is well worth a read – and her impact just keeps growing.

    You can get a taste of the book from these 3 letters and pick up the book here.

    Nicola Griffith – read at the LA Review of Books

    Gwyneth Jones – read at Strange Horizons

    Brit Mandelo – read at Tor.com

    New host — and something good coming

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    Today Michael is busy moving the website to a new host so please excuse any bumps in the road.

    Once we everything settled we’re going to announce a tiny bonus thing which will be offered to everyone who buys something from the site this month!

    Here’s the recent bestsellers if you’d like somewhere to begin:

    (Is this gif from Kiki’s Delivery Service related? I don’t know but I like it!)

    Happy Burns Day!

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    Today is the anniversary of one of the most famous Scottish exports (no, not whiskey or the Loch Ness monster!), the poet Robert Burns. He did an awful lot of things, good and bad, in his 37 years on this Earth. Somewhere in Ayrshire, where he was born, probably at the Burns Cottage museum but I’m not going to go check because it is Monday morning), they have a window from a pub where, instead of just paying his bar tab, he wrote a poem on the window using his diamond ring. Fancy poet living large!

    This morning I read “Tam O’Shanter” with my kid — nothing like trying to not explain people who are “fou for weeks thegither!” (drunk!) at breakfast. Or the dancing with the devil. But she loves the part about his gray mare, Meg.

    Hope you can help celebrate Robert Burns’s 257th birthday by writing a poem, reading a poem, sending a letter, reading a letter, writing a book, reading a book. And, if it’s your thing, have a wee bit whiskey with your oatcakes and haggis th’ night.

    Who’s Destroying Science Fiction?

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    Lightspeed! Right now Lightspeed is running their latest science fiction destroying Kickstarter, People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction!

    In 2014, Lightspeed funded their first special issue, Women Destroy Science Fiction!, which ended up raising more than 1000% of their original goal, and unlocked additional special issues Women Destroy Horror! and Women Destroy Fantasy!

    In 2015, they had another successful campaign to fund Queers Destroy Science Fiction! It raised more than 1000% of their goal, and unlocked additional special issues Queers Destroy Horror! and Queers Destroy Fantasy!

    So in 2016, with luck (and your help!), they will unlock additional special issues People of Colo(u)r Destroy Horror! and People of Colo(u)r Destroy Fantasy! Keep on keep on knocking it down and building it up, woohoo: go for it!

    Fantasy Magazine Issue 59 (December 2015, Queers Destroy Fantasy! Special Issue)   Nightmare Magazine, Issue 37 (October 2015, Queers Destroy Horror! Special Issue)  Lightspeed Magazine Issue 61 (June 2015, Queers Destroy Science Fiction! Special Issue)  Nightmare Magazine Issue 25: Women Destroy Horror! Special Issue  Fantasy Magazine Issue 58: Women Destroy Fantasy! Special Issue  Lightspeed Magazine Issue 49 – Women Destroy Science Fiction! Special Issue

    Mary Rickert in Locus

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    Locus January 2015 (#660) cover - click to view full sizeThere’s a fascinating interview with Mary Rickert in the current issue of Locus where she talks about trying to write novels over the years and what works and does not work for her, writing in general, and her mother’s death.

    I love Mary’s writing (we recently published her collection You Have Never Been Here at Small Beer) and am fascinated that she says she does not always know everything about her stories. I think it’s the gaps in the stories that make them so fascinating (or scary) and lifelike to me.

    You can read part of the interview on Locus’s site and the rest (and an interview with superstar Charlie Jane Anders) in Locus.

    Martin Luther King Jr. Day reading suggestions

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    I searched for Martin Luther King Jr. on the site and came up with two interesting looking books, both perhaps not surprisingly from our politically minded friends at PM Press.The first is We Have Not Been Moved: Resisting Racism and Militarism in 21st Century America by Elizabeth Betita Martínez et al. which is directly inspired by the work of King: “Among the historic texts included are rarely-seen writings by antiracist icons such as Anne Braden, Barbara Deming, and Audre Lorde, as well as a dialogue between Dr. King, revolutionary nationalist Robert F. Williams, Dave Dellinger, and Dorothy Day. Never-before-published pieces appear from civil rights and gay rights organizer Bayard Rustin and from celebrated U.S. pacifist supporter of Puerto Rican sovereignty Ruth Reynolds.”

    The second book inspired by Dr. King is Waging Peace by David Hartsough and Joyce Hollyday and is filled with “Engaging stories on every page provide a peace activist’s eyewitness account of many of the major historical events of the past 60 years.”

    Peace in our time!

    We Have Not Been Moved: Resisting Racism and Militarism in 21st Century America cover Waging Peace cover

    Beneath Ceaseless Skies Author Interview: Walter Dinjos

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    beneath-ceaseless-skies-issue-191-coverWeightless Books interviews Walter Dinjos, author of “The Mama Mmiri” in Beneath Ceaseless Skies Issue 190.

    Q: Your story “The Mama Mmiri” revolves around a teenaged boy and a water spirit. Have you ever seen a water spirit or felt like you’ve been in the presence of one?

    Dinjos: Nigerians are a superstitious lot. It’s not uncommon to find a good fraction of us professing the existence of water spirits. When you, however, get down to asking what these spirits really are or look like, you begin to realise that our conviction is rooted in nothing but hearsay and blind faith.

    Some may tell you that the spirits are the same as the regular mermaids you find in fairy tales, some others may claim they are goddesses, and others may say they are female water apparitions—you know, like ghosts, but more powerful. But you have to wonder which one it really is, and if you are anything like me, you must be practical about this.

    It’s rumoured in Nigeria that if you should bend and look behind through your legs in an open market, you would see spirits floating in the midst of the crowd, and you would not survive the sight. I put that rumour to the test once, but here I still am.

    So, no, I have not seen a water spirit, or any spirit at all, but I believe I have felt their presence—in my stories, of course.

    Q: When did you first know you wanted to write?

    Dinjos: I can’t say I knew I wanted to write when I was little, because reading and writing in English didn’t grow on me until 2010. And I’m not a native English speaker (you can understand my apathy as a boy). So, trust me, writing was hard, very hard, for me in the beginning. Now it’s just . . . hard.

    Looking back and considering how tedious the journey has been, I find it funny that I embraced writing to raise money. I needed money to record some songs, and I imagined that writing a book was an easy way to it.

    So I wrote a book, The Prospect, about illegal diamond mining in DR Congo and the forceful extraction of bone marrow from people immune to the dominant strain of HIV by the antagonist’s doctor in an attempt to cure the antagonist of the virus. It took me three months. Piece of cake, I thought—well, until the rejection letters started flying in. Fortunately, I had fallen in love with writing by then, and I couldn’t stop.

    Q: You’ve published short stories and poetry. How do you decide whether something wants to be a short story or a poem?

    Dinjos: It’s actually easy for me, since most of my poems are lyrics from my songs. I can literally sing my poems. If you take a look at my poem “My Maker,” you’d see it’s in song form, with verses and a repeating chorus.

    Sometimes, I fear I’m incapable of writing poetry without a melody in my head, seeing as the few times I attempted writing poetry from scratch I ended up with short stories instead. In fact, “The Mama Mmiri” is one of these stories. I started it, along with my poem “The Diamond Fish,” as a prose poem, but it turned out to be longer than I expected.

    Q: How do your singing and songwriting affect your other writing?

    Dinjos: When writing, I tend to favour lyrical prose, and I think that’s because of my musical side. I can’t begin to tell you how hard I fight the urge to include music in my prose. Sometimes, though, to better understand the emotions my characters feel, I ask myself what kind of song this character would sing when faced with this plight or that plight. If I succeed in writing a song that exudes one character’s emotion at a point in my story, I tend to find that part of the story easier to write. It…just flows.

    Q: What kind of challenges do you face in making time for your writing?

    Dinjos: My writing and my studies at the Writers Bureau England are in sync, and I love that by writing my assignments I produce short stories, poems, and articles that I can submit to magazines. And since these are assignments, I enjoy the privilege of having my tutor look over them before I start making submissions.

    My singing and songwriting are also very helpful. I found that when I’m stuck, singing or writing a song is a nice way to recuperate.

    My day job is the only thorn on my writing life. I work from 7am to 6pm from Monday to Saturday in a place riddled with so much noise—the kind of noise that invades your thoughts. That’s what you get when you are into transportation and logistics in Nigeria, and this makes it difficult for me to think about writing at work.

    When I finally return home, all I want to do is sleep, and that’s what I do, so that when I wake around 10pm, I’m able to give my writing all the attention it deserves until 2am when I go to sleep again.

    Q: Do you have any upcoming projects you’re working on that you can share?

    Walter DinjosDinjos: I do. Most of them are short stories, but one is a novel—A Hundred Lifetimes. The story revolves around reincarnation (trust me, it’s not what you think; so don’t take a second look at the title), a form of teleportation that requires a certain natural ray to be possible, and a society where the coalescence of magic and science has led to the cloning of the human soul.

    Walter Dinjos is Nigerian, and he enjoys singing and songwriting as much as he does writing. In addition to Beneath Ceaseless Skies, his work has been accepted at Space & Time, Stupefying Stories, Literary Hatchet, and others. He is currently exploring means (both scientific and magical) of attaining immortality. You can find him online at www.walterdinjos.com.

    Beneath Ceaseless Skies, a three-time Hugo Award finalist and World Fantasy Award-winning online magazine publishing the best in literary adventure fantasy, is available DRM-free in single issues and as a 12-month subscription.

    Cloverfield!

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    The Cutting Room: Dark Reflections of the Silver ScreenGood news for us monster movie fans — and it isn’t just that Ellen Datlow’s The Cutting Room: Dark Reflections of the Silver Screen is right there waiting for you. This morning I read on twitter about a new monster movie . . . well, I think it’s a monster movie. All we know now is that there’s a movie coming in March called 10 Cloverfield Lane and we’re all supposing it is connected to Cloverfield. Either way, the good news for me is that John Goodman’s in it. I read about it on geek.com and it’s basically everywhere on the internets but if you haven’t yet watched the trailer, go on, here it is:

    Back!

    First: sorry! We’re still waiting for our webhost, A Small Orange, to explain quite what happened but for now, while there will be changes behind the scenes, hey, we’re back!

    All the January 1st new magazines are out — Locus, (with an interview I can’t wait to read with Mary Rickert), Lightspeed, Galaxy’s Edge (featuring Leigh Bracket, scriptwriter for Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back), Flash Fiction OnlineClarkesworld MagazineForever Magazine, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Nightmare, and Shimmer Magazine — and tomorrow new issues of Uncanny Magazine and The Big Click go out. Yay! Also, phew!

    via GIPHY

    PM Press December Sale

    This month, everyone can get a taste of PM Press‘s wide range of books by receiving a 50% discount on all PM Press orders here on Weightless until December 31st with gift coupon

    PMPRESS

    Sensation The Science of Herself The Wild Girls London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction Human Punk Late in the Day: Poems 2010–2014 Gypsy Understanding Jim Crow: Using Racist Memorabilia to Teach Tolerance and Promote Social Justice