Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for May 2016

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month
It’s that time of the month again, time for “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some April books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. We have a whole lot of space opera and military science fiction this month as well as hard science fiction, paranormal romance, epic fantasy, urban fantasy, Asian inspired fantasy, young adult fantasy, horror, fairytales, werewolves, dragons, ghosts, fae, fairytale curses, dark gnomes, iceslingers, squid creatures, tentacled horrors from the deep, alien invasions, superheroes, space marines, galactic conspiracies, troubled space captains and much more.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

Kraken Island by Eric S. BrownKraken Island by Eric S. Brown:
Colonel Brannon Jackson’s Reapers are the toughest, deadliest, black ops squad that America has at her disposal. When the mission can’t afford to fail, the Reapers are the ones on the sharp end. A group of doomsday cultists determined to bring about the end of humanity is the Reapers’ latest target but this time even the Reapers may not be able to save the world as a prehistoric monster rises to claim the Earth’s seas as its own.

Conspirators by Cora BuhlertConspirators by Cora Buhlert:
Lord Jonathan Summerton, husband, father, lord of Caswallon and current head of one of the oldest families in the Empire. For too many years, he turned a blind eye to the abuses perpetrated by the Emperor and his followers. But now that his homeworld is under threat, he is no longer willing to stay silent.

Arthur Madden, miner's son from Askvig IV turned Rebel leader turned most wanted man in the universe. He has dedicated his life to fighting the Empire and putting an end to injustice and inequality. However, in order to achieve that goal, he needs allies, including some who seem to represent everything he fights against.

Alanna Greyskull, former commander in the Imperial Navy. Court-martialled for refusing to scorch a planet full of unarmed civilians, she escaped the firing squad and wound up joining the Great Galactic Rebellion, because there was nowhere else she could go. Ever since then she has been trying to bring some semblance of organisation to the chaotic rabble that makes up the Rebellion, while plotting to make the Empire pay for what was done to her.

When these three meet in a nameless restaurant on the planet Wei Xiu II, lives are changed and history is made and the universe will never be the same…

This is a prequel novella of 24000 words or approximately 82 pages in the Shattered Empire universe, but may be read as a standalone.

Star Nomad by Lindsay BurokerStar Nomad by Lindsay Buroker
The Alliance has toppled the tyrannical empire. It should be a time for celebration, but not for fighter pilot Captain Alisa Marchenko. After barely surviving a crash in the final battle for freedom, she's stranded on a dustball of a planet, billions of miles from her young daughter. She has no money or resources, and there are no transports heading to Perun, her former home and the last imperial stronghold.

But she has a plan.

Steal a dilapidated and malfunctioning freighter from a junkyard full of lawless savages. Slightly suicidal, but she believes she can do it. Her plan, however, does not account for the elite cyborg soldier squatting in the freighter, intending to use it for his own purposes. As an imperial soldier, he has no love for Alliance pilots. In fact, he's quite fond of killing them.

Alisa has more problems than she can count, but she can't let cyborgs, savages, or ancient malfunctioning ships stand in her way. If she does, she’ll never see her daughter again.

Guilty by Association by E.A. CopenGuilty by Association by E.A. Copen:
Everything’s bigger in Texas… Including the monsters.

When a young werewolf is murdered on the Paint Rock Supernatural Reservation, the local cops think it’s a drug deal gone bad. BSI agent Judah Black knows better. An occult expert, she knows magick is at work from the beginning. Using only her wits, knowledge of the supernatural and her limited magickal abilities, she must untangle a web of cover-ups and lies before the killer finds his next victim.

The First New Martians by Eric W. DeakinThe First New Martians by Eric W. Deakin:
A Novel by Eric W. Deakin about how Humankind began the ascent to the stars via inner space and those who made it possible. How an old soldier, his dog and a young Aboriginal girl, with help from the Axis Engineers, changed the history of humankind forever. How more money than the collective wealth of the entire world was spent on this mission.

The Fairytale Curse by Marina FinlaysonThe Fairytale Curse by Marina Finlayson:
Most people only wake up with hangovers after parties. Seventeen-year-old Violet wakes up with frogs falling out of her mouth whenever she speaks, and her twin sister CJ’s dripping diamonds with every word. As if starting at a new high school wasn’t hellish enough, they’ve been hit with a curse straight out of a fairy tale, with not a handsome prince in sight.

Apparently Mum and Dad don’t work for the military after all, but for a secret organisation dedicated to keeping the magical denizens of the world safely locked away. These are not the harmless fairies of children’s tales, but powerful beings with a score to settle for their long years of imprisonment. Now the barriers are failing, and if Vi can’t find answers fast the world will be overrun with vengeful fairies. And then there’ll be no happily ever after for anyone.

Video Game Recruiting by Tom GermannVideo Game Recruiting by Tom Germann:
Science Fiction and the Scientists lied…..

There was no golden age of discovery. No FTL or Galactic Federations. At first contact we found out how wrong we had been about the future.

Then a failed alien invasion had crushed our reborn hope.

Tim grew up a normal kid. He went to school and spent time with friends. After all ‘work hard, play hard’ is the way people live now.

All Tim had ever wanted was a nice entry level management position somewhere. Preferably in The Glentol Corporation. He didn’t know that he would become involved in something much bigger.

There have never been many successful candidates for Marine training. The requirements are high and only a few successfully complete training every year. Humanity needs every Marine it has and more.

Tim will be put into a situation where he will discover the sabotage in the recruiting program. Will he be able to expose the cause and fix it? Or will he fail and watch as the experimental video game recruiting process is shut down?

Without the Marines how will humanity survive when the aliens come back?

The First Chill of Autumn by W.R. GingellThe First Chill of Autumn by W.R. Gingell:
Llassar is an occupied country– but nobody seems to know it.

Fae began to filter slowly into the land shortly after the birth of the crown princess, Dion ferch Alawn, supposedly fleeing a dark threat in Faery known as the Guardians. But that was fifteen years ago, and now there isn’t a town in Llassar that isn’t populated by or under the control of the fae.

Smaller, weaker, and less talented at magic, Llassarians are quickly finding out that there’s no fighting the invasion that crept in so quietly and politely. Even the castle isn’t free of fae: those closest to the king and queen are faery advisors.

When Dion ferch Alawn returns from a carefully sanitised tour of Outer Llassar, the most exciting thing she expects from the near future is the present her twin sister Aerwn promised for their seventeenth birthday.
Then her carriage breaks down, and Dion gets a taste of what the real Llassar has become: desperate, enslaved, and ripe for rebellion. Getting home safely is just the first problem she faces: the real struggle begins when Dion returns to the castle. Her new knowledge is inconvenient and unwelcome– to declare it, treason.

Carl Sagan's Hunt for Intelligent Life in the Universe by C. GockelCarl Sagan's Hunt for Intelligent Life in the Universe by C. Gockel:
Sometimes intelligent life is right in front of your whiskers.

Hsissh is a member of The One. There are some newcomers to The One's homeplanet. They call themselves "humans," and they are, frankly, mentally deficient--they can't warp the quantum world with their minds. However, Hsissh is becoming attached to one of them, a Miss Noa Sato.

When The One decide they will wipe out the humans and Noa's life is on the line, Hsissh is forced to take sides ... he might find intelligent life where The One least expect it.

Blackwater Val by William GormanBlackwater Val by William Gorman:
Something isn’t quite right in the Val.

Richard Franklin has left his Midwestern roots behind to live on the coast of Maine with his family. But in the autumn of the year 2000, he must return to his Illinois birthplace on a sorrowful journey. His wife Michelle has been killed in New England by a hit-and-run driver who is never found, so back home he comes with her cremated remains, to fulfill a final wish and on her birthday scatter her ashes in the park along the river in Blackwater Valley—simply Blackwater Val to locals—the small town where they both grew up and fell in love.

With him he brings his six-year-old daughter Katie who still grieves for her lost mother: Katie, who can sometimes guess who’s going to be on the phone before it rings. Who can stop all the clocks in the house, and break up clouds in the sky with her mind, and heal sicknesses, and who sometimes sees things that aren’t there . . . people who are no longer alive. All gifts she inherited from her mother.

Only something isn’t quite right in the Val.

Sinkholes are opening up, revealing the plague pits the sleepy hamlet was built over in the 1830s, when malaria and cholera outbreaks ran riot. Mysterious bird and fish die-offs begin to occur, and Katie can see ghosts of the dead gathering all around. But what she can’t see is the charred, centuries-old malevolence which has been waiting for her, and wants her for its very own. Or the pale Sallow Man who haunts the town’s nighttime streets . . . or the river witch—another Blackwater Val, of sorts—each of whom will be drawn one by one into the nightmarish bloodletting about to take place.

Iceslinger by John HegenbergerIceslinger by John Hegenberger:
A deadly showdown on frozen Ganymede . . . an experiment in time travel that has unexpected results . . . the dead being brought back to life—to sell insurance . . . a legendary villain seeking to summon a strange visitor from another planet . . .

These are only some of the ventures into the fantastic and bizarre to be found in ICESLINGER, the latest collection from acclaimed author John Hegenberger. These classic tales of science fiction and fantasy are filled with action, big ideas, humor, and drama. Step into the many worlds of John Hegenberger and prepare to be entertained!

Weller Franks by R.D. HendersonWeller Franks by R.D. Henderson:
From the author of the Nambroc Sequence, here is Weller Franks, the second novella in the Water Falcon Trilogy, his next fantasy series.

Weller Franks, a dark gnome, owes a great deal of money to a halfling crime lord named Tom Bolden who operates in the Fairy Realm.

Franks desires nothing more than getting out from underneath the thumb of Bolden, disposing of the Franks persona, and return to his old life as a smuggler on the high seas in the Earth Realm.

While Weller dreams of his old life, the gnome works as a portal operator for Portal Travel, Inc. which is a company that takes passengers and cargo from one realm to another. Traveling by portal is the only mode of travel between the realms, and Portal Travel, Inc. is the only company that provides this service.

Sometimes, Tom or one of his underlings would order Weller to smuggle, narcotics, illicit magic items, and unregistered weapons in his portal which is a crime.

Weller is not so much bothered by committing crimes when his smuggling contraband in his portal. The gnome, however, is very hot and bothered that he is not getting a larger percentage from each illicit transaction. The problem also for the gnome was the more revenue he generated for Tom did not necessarily mean the amount of money he owed the halfling is getting less.

After doing some good work for Tom, but still owing money to the halfling, Weller is told that he would be returning to the high seas and would be able to get rid of the Weller Franks persona. The gnome should be estatic and happy that his dreams become a reality, but he is not. Why is that?

Ambassador by Patty JansenAmbassador: Blue Diamond Sky by Patty Jansen:
As Cory takes a well-earned rest and finally submits to proper weapons training, he and a couple of people from his household go on a hunting trip in the marshland between Barresh and the turquoise sea. A bad storm has come through recently and on a deserted beach, Cory finds something Earthly that doesn’t belong there: a message in a bottle, a piece of paper with HELP scratched on it with a sharp object. In Isla.

Cory has a list of all humans in Barresh: it’s very short and no one is missing. A few days later, he receives a curious message through official channels, from a woman on Earth whose rich businessman husband went on a trip of a lifetime “in a place where you can surf with plesiosaurs in turquoise waves”.

Cory knows the guy advertising the trip. He’s a shady character. He also knows where the “plesiosaurs” are. They’re not particularly friendly. Not to mention that the area is on the land of a viciously territorial Pengali tribe.

As it turns out, those are the least of his worries.

A child of the Pink Moon by Floyd LooneyA Child of the Pink Moon by Floyd Looney:
Nel is an ordinary seventeen year old, worried about her super-powers, scared that she could be drafted and the possibility of a deadly showdown with her stalker.

Nel has been in institutions most of her life, since her family gave her up when she exhibited signs of having super powers. Now there are super-powered teenagers around the world being drafted by governments for combat. While the world rushes into super-powered warfare, Nel must deal with a super-powered stalker who wants to kill her.

The Green Dragon by Salvador MercerThe Green Dragon by Salvador Mercer:
A thousand years ago, on the world of Claire-Agon, a war raged between men and dragons.

In Vulcrest, nearly a century before the Great Dragon War, a boy's life was changed forever. Sheltered by a Druid of the Arnen, Elly Brown was raised in the druidic order destined to confront his childhood terror and become one of the most feared defenders in all of Agon, Elister the Druid.

Near the heart of Vulcrest's Greenfeld Forest, the heir to the throne, Helvie, and her Paladin protector, Fist of Astor, Lucina, investigate a strange series of murders while the sinister Kesh ally with Vulcrest's ancient enemy, the realm of Ekos in an attempt to dominate the frontier realm, laying siege to its capital, Vulkor.

Facing the destruction of her realm, Helvie must unite with an unlikely group of companions to free her homeland, but a deadly, ancient, woodland nemesis has other plans.

Helvie soon discovers that, in the world of Claire-Agon, when dealing with a Green Dragon, sometimes rules were meant to be broken.

Six Celestial Swords by T.A. MilesSix Celestial Swords by T.A. Miles:
Inspired by the rising chaos in Sheng Fan, Xu Liang, mystic and officer of the Imperial Court, leaves his homeland for the barbarian outer lands in search of four magical blades to unite with two sacred weapons already in the possession of the Empire. His plan is to bring all of the blades together and return them to Sheng Fan's Empress as a symbol of unity that will bolster the people’s faith in the Imperial family and assist against the surge of dark forces.

The Lost Pilot by T.S. PaulThe Lost Pilot by T.S. Paul:
Before Athena Lee and the worlds that she knew there was an embattled Earth.

Earth was in turmoil before the first colony ship was launched. The Cyber Wars raged across the planet as country battled country. The war was fought until only the Major Powers were victorious. In the aftermath, the United Nations came into it's own. Warriors, trained and bred to be the best the world had ever seen emerged from the shadows, bringing order and control out of the chaos of the Cyber Wars. Sam was one such warrior. Born and bred to serve he followed his orders and became one of the best pilots in the service. The future of man lay in the stars. Colonization was a good way to rid society of the undesirables of Earth. He volunteered to start a new colony and spread Earth's power.

This is the Prequel for the Athena Lee Chronicles.

Sins of the Father by K.L. PhelpsSins of the Father by K.L. Phelps:
Kat Parker was looking forward to a nice normal night out with her boyfriend—though nothing is truly normal when you can see and talk with the dead. However, when Damian arrives with news that his estranged father has been killed, date night quickly turns into a trip to Vegas, the supernatural capital of the world. Whoever said romance was dead?

As a former detective for the Vegas Police Department, Damian is well aware of his father’s shady business dealings, but he’s still surprised when he’s confronted by an unstable squid-faced creature demanding he deliver on his father’s final deal.

With time running short and the creature’s patience running even shorter, Kat must help to figure out who killed Damian’s father and how to deliver on his final debt. Otherwise, Kat may have more to worry about than playing middleman to a postmortem family reconciliation or figuring out if her pet turtle has a gambling problem.

Falling Dusk by Jennifer R. PoveyFalling Dusk by Jennifer R. Povey:
Anna McKenzie just wants her life back. She wants the brutal murder of her brother never to have happened. She certainly doesn't want magic, power, and to deal with a certain vigilante named Victor Prince...

...but once the world of magic has claimed her, there is no escape.

Eons Semester by Jim RudnickEons Semester by Jim Rudnick
Jilted by his Royal fiancee, captain Tanner Scott is assigned to Eons and the newly constructed RIM Naval Academy buildings and the duty is anything but a reward. His days are full of squabbling University professors and construction types all nitpicking for changes to plans and additions and extra and the boredom of detail is a horrible side-effect.

As he learns, there is more to looking after a successful construction project than being at the top of the heap and the machinations of the Issians who run Eons and it’s mind-readers comes to him for help. He knows that the Baroness is somehow also involved but the openness of the Master Adept and her Inner Circle that controls Eons is what is so surprising to him.

As the Naval Academy is finally ready to open and the heads of state of many of the RIM Confederacy planets arrive, the protesters against the Issians make their play to publicly humiliate the Inner Circle and their own plans to strengthen their ranks via the death of twins and Tanner must find a way to quell the uprising…

Fatal Blade by Eric ThomsonFatal Blade by Eric Thomson:
Someone was setting fire to the Commonwealth Rim, nurturing a storm to drag humanity through the horrors of colonial warfare and thereby hasten the rise of Empire. Their plan had just one fatal flaw: it didn’t count on an ex-Marine pathfinder with a grudge, a dagger and a deadly partner. Zack Decker had seen enough of war to know this one had to be stopped before it turned into an all-out bloodbath, even if that meant ignoring orders and risking his mission as well as his life. After all, he was still one of the Few…

Hunted by Magic by Jasmine WaltHunted by Magic by Jasmine Walt:
With the sudden disappearance of Iannis, the Chief Mage, Solantha has erupted into pandemonium. Citizens are rioting in the streets, the Mages Guild is on a misguided warpath, and shifters and humans are fleeing the city in droves. Ridden with guilt, Sunaya defies the Mages Guild and goes off in search of Iannis, trekking into dangerous, uncivilized territory to try and make things right. But Sunaya's relationship with Iannis isn't the only thing at stake -- if she doesn't find him soon, the Resistance might just succeed in plunging the Northia Federation into a devastating and bloody civil war.

Buried Desire by A.E. WaspBuried Desire by A.E. Wasp:
The vengeful ghost of a murdered girl stalks the innocent. A forbidden passion ignites in the dark. Secrets of the past that doom the present rise with the dead at Eden Lake.

For Nikolai and Alexei, their jobs at Camp Nevele were supposed to be a break from real life, a last deep breath of freedom before returning to their family and the traditional marriages arranged for them. But the peace of the summer is shattered when the ghost of a brutally murdered girl begins to kill.

Even within his Romany family, Alexei has always been different. Gifted with the sight, he's lived his life knowing something dark hunts them. A being from the otherworld unwilling to stop until it gets what it wants...and what it wants is Nikolai.

As the boys struggle to put the spirit to rest before it kills again, they find it harder and harder to deny the passion burning between them.

Despite the deep taboos of their upbringing, desire ignites between the young men and they are left with a devastating choice between holding on to each other and losing everything they've ever known. But the very love that binds them together may separate them forever and the choice may not be theirs to make.

Fans of the supernatural and passionate stories of first love will fall in love with the fantasy romance of Nikolai and Alexei and their desperate struggle to stay together.

Monday, May 30, 2016

The First New Martians (The Eighth Sister of the Pleiades, Book 1) by Eric W. Deakin

Release date: May 18, 2016
Subgenre: Hard Science Fiction

About The First New Martians


A Novel by Eric W. Deakin about how Humankind began the ascent to the stars via inner space and those who made it possible. How an old soldier, his dog and a young Aboriginal girl, with help from the Axis Engineers, changed the history of humankind forever. How more money than the collective wealth of the entire world was spent on this mission. 



Here I am, now the most powerful human that I know of, in all of our history. I have, in my hands, the ability to protect all of mankind. Yet should they threaten the viability of their planet, I also have the power to destroy them. Should I help them make of themselves what “I” think they should be? As Baron Acton once wrote, “absolute power corrupts, absolutely”. The immense responsibility of this situation in which I now find myself, is a huge diversion to my image of self. I have shelved this problem. I will do nothing, yet. For many years I wondered at politicians who did nothing, and remained popular. I now have a better knowledge of their dilemma. Have I become, as a god? Am I subject to a god? Am I now a part of the plan of a godlike power? The God of my childhood began with his god-ship over mankind. He had been an overlord, giving order to everything. It had seemed to me then, the universe he created and most of the creatures therein, were well ordered. But mankind was ever a disordered species. The God of the Old Testament tried very hard to order mankind into his ethics. He had little success. Eventually he cleansed the world of almost all of mankind. A few he chose to continue on under his order and they did so. Very soon mankind was going on full ahead just as before. At least this god was a quick learner. He gave up being an overlord. Mankind would now have to learn from his own mistakes. God would not intervene. He would reward those who did as he ordered, in a heavenly afterlife. Some kind of dark brother of God would punish those who disobeyed in an antithesis of this heaven, after their death. The priests of God, as did always the priests of all gods, found great power and profit in this ideology. One could only ascend to the utopia which waited for them, through the approval of God’s church and its priesthoods. Everyone else would be subject to the ravages of the dark anti-God. Those who did not accept the power of God and his priesthood, were to be punished. There was no other God but God. Much of the world went into the dark ages, where truth was subject to the approval of the priesthood. The priesthood became more and more powerful in these times. God seemed somehow to be an absent slave of his priesthood, used by them to further their own power. The advent of the freedom given science and the resulting industrial revolution, which might never have occurred under priestly rule, reversed all this. God still seemed to be absent but the priests became much less powerful. Mankind was now looking for new leadership and guardianship. Would God rise up again to take this needed place? Could “I” serve the God of my childhood and take this place in his name? Or should I take this place and impose my own ethics and that of the Axis fearing not the God of my childhood?
How I came to be in this position is an almost unbelievable story. Where it all leads, shows the many open possibilities available to humankind.


Free on May 29 and 30!


About Eric W. Deakin:

 Eric W Deakin was born in the United Kingdom in 1947. He immigrated to Australia with his family while still a child. He began a career in Electronics in the 1960s. He retired as a fire service officer in 1996 when he built his own home in a small fishing village on Kangaroo Island. He has been a yachtsman and lived aboard his yacht for 15 years. He now travels aboard a 13 ton truck he has converted into a mobile home with his wife Judy and his standard poodle Grace who helps with the writing and plays a cameo role. He has a passion for science and technology and a disdain for the dogmas of politics and religion.

Website | Author Central | Twitter | Facebook

Friday, May 27, 2016

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for May 27, 2016

Here is our weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with lots of award discussion, a shocking revelation about Captain America, women in science fiction and fantasy, writing with disabilities, indigenous futurism as well as the usual mix of writing advice, interviews, reviews, con reports and crowdfunding projects as well as free online fiction. 

Speculative fiction in general:

Comments on Captain America:


Writing, publishing and promotion:




Con reports:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends: 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Carl Sagan's Hunt for Intelligent Life in the Universe (An Archangel Project short story) by C. Gockel

Release date: May 12, 2016
Subgenre: Space opera, space exploration

About Carl Sagan's Hunt for Intelligent Life in the Universe:


Sometimes intelligent life is right in front of your whiskers.
Hsissh is a member of The One. There are some newcomers to The One's homeplanet. They call themselves "humans," and they are, frankly, mentally deficient--they can't warp the quantum world with their minds. However, Hsissh is becoming attached to one of them, a Miss Noa Sato.

When The One decide they will wipe out the humans and Noa's life is on the line, Hsissh is forced to take sides ... he might find intelligent life where The One least expect it.



Chapter 1: What Little Werfles are Made Of

“ … cells are made of proteins, proteins are made of molecules, molecules are made of atoms, atoms are made of particles … And do you remember what those are made of?”

“Waves, Third One!”

“Yes, you are waves manifest as matter. You can become waves again at any time.”

Sliding down the embankment, his ten legs not able to lift him, Hsissh reprimanded himself, Next body, no sleeping in a field frequented by lizzar. He knew better, but the rock had been sunny and wonderfully warm. And then one of the clumsy, wave-ignorant oafs had whacked him with its tail. Now this body was beyond reasonable repair and he had to move on. Finding a dry spot, he curled into a ball. Tucking his nose to his tail, he closed his eyes and … hesitated. He blinked. He didn’t want to let this form go … Shissh, his blood kin in her last life, had been urging him for years to give up this shell and the pain that was tied to it; to let his memories of their third parent become a dream.

“What’s that?”

His ears perked. It was the vocal utterance of a wave-ignorant Newcomer. Ish, one of the more scholarly members of Hsissh’s kind, had decoded most of the language and shared it in the waves. Hsissh hadn’t thought the Newcomers had spread this far north. He wondered what they’d found.

A sharp pain in his side made his body uncoil with a startled squeak. “Is it some sort of albino-mutant-ten-legged weasel?”

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About C. Gockel: 

C. Gockel got her start writing fanfiction, and she is not ashamed! Much. She received emails, messages and reviews from her fans telling her she should 'do this professionally'. She didn't; because she is a coward and life as a digital designer, copywriter and coder is more dependable. But in the end, her husband's nagging wore her down: "You could be the next '50 Shades of Gray' and I could retire!" Unfortunately, the author isn't much for writing smut. She is sad about this; she'd love for her husband to be able to retire and just work for her so she could nag him.




Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Interview with Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, author of Strange Monsters: a music and words collaboration

The Speculative Fiction Showcase welcomes Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam to discuss her new album, Strange Monsters, produced in collaboration with her partner, Peter Brewer.

Your album is called Strange Monsters: a music and words collaboration. What inspired you to take up this project?

My partner Peter and I collaborated on the first track, “The Stink of Horses” first, as part of a submission to a contest. Everyone involved had so much fun that we decided to do a whole album of audio fiction and poetry set to Peter’s original jazz compositions. 

I wanted to center the album around a theme, and I’ve always been inspired by several lines from a May Sarton poem, “My Sisters, Oh My Sisters.” The poem is about creative women whose domestic lives suffered as a result of their devotion to their art, and how that made them “strange monsters” in the eyes of other people. All of the stories and poems address, in some way, women struggling to make their own path, to eschew what’s expected of them domestically, romantically, creatively, or sexually.

The album is a collaboration with Peter Brewer. How did you work together over the writing and composition?

Peter’s my partner, so all the collaborating was done in-house, very close-knit. I wrote the stories and poems—most of them are reprints, so they’d been published already—and then we hired actors to read them. Once we had the recorded stories, Peter wrote the music on our old cranky piano. Every now and then he’d run something by me, but for the most part we each worked on our own.

This is an unusual and exciting format for a work of speculative fiction. Do you think there will be an increase in mixed media projects?

I think people have always been interested in experimenting with forms and mixing things up, and now, with crowd-funding and other alternative funding methods, it’s easier to do them. So yes, I think there has been and will continue to be an increase in mixed media projects. 

Which came first – the music or the words?

The words came first. Peter wrote the music to accompany the stories. 

Many authors and poets have their own personal soundtrack for writing. What would yours be?

I always listen to music when I write. Mostly instrumental. I gravitate toward a lot of movie soundtracks. The Fountain soundtrack by Clint Mansell has been a go-to for years now. Joby Talbot’s The Dying Swan soundtrack. Recently I’ve been writing about rock stars, so I’ve been listening to rock instrumentals. When I’m writing creepy scenes, Brian Eno is always a good choice. If I want something prettier, Maria Schneider. For something fast-paced, Lindsey Stirling or Elliot Goldenthal’s Frida soundtrack. 

Are there any contemporary composers and writers you particularly admire?

I’m a big fan of writers in the literary fantastic vein: Aimee Bender, Karen Russell, Kelly Link, Jonathan Lethem, Sofia Samatar, Etgar Keret. I greatly admire Jonathan Lethem’s Promiscuous Materials project, where he offers up older stories and song lyrics and invites others to use them as inspiration. Poets who delve into popular and magical spaces, like Tim Seibles, W.S. Merwin, Matthea Harvey, Amal El-Mohtar.

As for music, I gravitate toward the dramatic. Operatic vocals, like My Brightest Diamond and Wild Beasts. I’ve always been greatly moved by Pink Floyd’s music and their story. Folk singers who aren’t afraid to be raw: Tracy Chapman, Ani Difranco. AURORA is a new Norwegian singer I’ve been listening to a lot lately. Daughter, for the ethereal trance their music puts me in. Prince and David Bowie come to mind as talented artists who paved their own paths.

Which areas of Speculative Fiction interest you most?

The ones that straddle borders, that place as much emphasis on beautiful writing as on plot. The areas that aren’t easily classifiable but sometimes go by slipstream, magic realism, the fantastic, interstitial. 

Poetry is sometimes a neglected medium in genre fiction. What made you choose it?

I’ve always been part-poet, part-fiction writer, so it only made sense that the album be part-poetry, part-fiction.

Many of the first fantasy stories and sagas appeared in metric verse, or verse forms. Song lyrics have huge popularity. Is there scope for longer works?

Sure, but I think it’s been obscured in modern society. It’s likely a question of our needing to push through until it finds its place again. 

What have been your influences?

I’m constantly influenced not only by the work from writers I love but also by musicians, visual artists, dancers, filmmakers. I’m always seeking out new and interesting work. Recently, I’ve been influenced a great deal by My Brightest Diamond’s music. Her lyrics create these other worlds that always inspire something in me. Contemporary artists I’ve stumbled upon over the years influence me greatly: Kathleen Lolley, Katy Horan. Films that cross boundaries effortlessly or utilize the fantastic as metaphor: TiMER, Melancholia, Miranda Julie’s The Future, Monsters, Velvet Goldmine, everything Darren Aronofsky’s made.

As for literature, as a kid I was greatly affected by fairy tales and weird stories. I was ravenous for Louis Sachar’s Wayside School books. They were so bizarre and fun and clever. In middle school my mom bought me the graphic novel Black Hole and my sister bought me Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, and both of those books showed me how dark and intriguing fantasy could be. In high school we were assigned Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale, and that was one of the first experiences I had with seeing feminist issues explored in a book that could be considered science fiction. I’m influenced by books, too, that don’t entirely distinguish between poetry and story, like Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red or José Saramago’s Blindness. I strive to always house a bit of the poetic in my fiction.

About Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam and Peter Brewer:



Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam's fiction and poetry has appeared in over fifty magazines and anthologies both literary and speculative including The Toast, Clarkesworld, PRISM International, Lightspeed, Hobart, and Everyman's Library's Monster Verse. She's had stories reprinted in French and Polish, for numerous podcasts, and on the popular science blog io9. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from University of Southern Maine's Stonecoast Program and created and curates the annual Art & Words Collaborative Show in Fort Worth, Texas. She is active on Twitter @BonnieJoStuffle and on her website www.bonniejostufflebeam.com.

Peter Brewer is the owner and operator of Easy Brew Studio. He holds a BM in Jazz Studies: Trumpet Performance from the University of North Texas and an MM in Jazz Studies: Composition/Arranging from the University of Oregon. He has performed with many groups, including the UNT 2 o'clock lab band, Cas Hailey, Amanda Palmer, and Donny McCaslin. His arrangements and original pieces have been performed for the Oregon Jazz Ensemble featuring musicians such as Dan Balmer and Steve Wilson. Peter grew up in Kansas City, MO, with a family of musicians who taught him to appreciate sound. 

Bonnie and Peter live in north Texas with their literarily-named cats Gimli and Don Quixote.