My novelette “Moss” out in Silver Blade!

Eeeep!

I didn’t realise that my novelette “Moss” had already appeared in Silver Blade Magazine – but it has! This is my longest published story to date – a novelette, eeee! I feel so happy it’s out and I can share it with everyone!

Read “Moss” here!

Note: trigger warning for (implied) incest: the story was inspired by the fairytale “Donkeyskin” and some other variants of Aarne-Thompson motif #510B. It’s not graphic at all in “Moss”, just implied, like I said, but I thought I’d warn about it anyway.

“Moss” is set in the forest world of “Boat-husk” and “The Ruin” . Timeline-wise, this novelette is set way back in the world’s history compared to “The Ruin” – the apocalyptic event mentioned in “The Ruin” is still far, far in the future for the protagonists of “Moss”.

I really enjoy this world I’ve built/am building! I hope you do too. :) (I should do something about the zero draft of a novel I wrote last Nanowrimo, also set in this forest world…)

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Sunday recs: The Goblin Emperor

A novel for today’s Sunday recs:

I just read Katherine Addison’s novel The Goblin Emperor and was, quite frankly, blown away. I haven’t loved a novel this much in ages! It was the perfect escape amidst a very busy couple of weeks. I may or may not have uttered a “noooooo” when I realised the story was done and the rest was appendix-type stuff.

Things that I especially loved:

  • The main character, Maia. Ohhhh Maia! I love characters who strive to be good, and Maia really does. He is also just so endearing in his awkwardness. <3
  • The use of language! In addition to writing really compelling prose, Addison appealed to Linguist Me by having the elves’ language (represented as English) include a distinction between formal and informal 1st and 2nd person pronouns. Such a lovely detail, and so revealing of their politeness culture. I especially enjoyed that at first the reader has to start figuring it out themself. Also: the “early modern English” features (thou/thee, etc.) were all grammatically correct! This is especially awesome because so many people do weird shit with pseudo-Shakespearean language. In Addison’s hands it felt natural instead of stilted.
  • It was so optimistic! And not in a saccharine way – just, people were decent, and the ending made me so happy.

My only sorrow is that this is a standalone. I really hope Addison writes something else set in this world… I would’ve wanted to learn more especially about Maia’s betrothed.

It’s interesting that the novel seems to be classified as steampunk. I suppose it shouldn’t be so surprising to me – after all, TGE includes developing steam/clockwork-powered machinery and revolution – but this book is just so different from any steampunk I’ve ever read. While reading I was just like “well this is a great high fantasy -esque novel with a post-medieval society, yay”.

I do urge you to try out The Goblin Emperor though, especially if you’re in the mood for optimistic fantasy! I read this as an ebook as part of my Hugo voting packet, but I ordered the paperback halfway through the book because I want to treasure this thing as a physical object as well.

Writing music, writing dance

Do you have things that you constantly try to capture in writing, but only rarely succeed, and if so, only partially?

I have several – well, everyone probably does – but the two that I struggle the most to capture are music and dance. I’m deeply into the contemporary Finnish folk music and dance scene; there’s some strange magic in the fiddle harmonies and subtle rhythms, and in the ability to find the perfect dance steps for the tunes. I’d want to be able to write this into my fiction and poems.

So many times, I’ve tried to capture a certain feeling in writing – that feeling I get when I’m dancing, when there’s a group of folk musicians playing, when there’s a perfect trinity of connection between my body&soul, my dance partner, and the music weaving between us. I’ve tried both in English and Finnish. One time this spring I got pretty close, in a Finnish poem. There’s always something missing, though. But that’s part of writing, I suppose – always striving for some unattainable goal.

I’m always trying to capture elusive beasts in words. Intensely physical experiences like dance or the emotions caused by music are perhaps among the hardest things to express in such a different medium. But I always have to keep trying. With every attempt, I may capture even a shred of the moment. Perhaps one day those shreds, as poems and stories, will form a broken mosaic expressing what the experience of dance, of the deep tear-wrenching joy of music is like for me.

Poems, poems! (inkscrawl & origami)

The June issue of inkscrawl is out! (Well, it came out last week already, but I was busy travelling so didn’t have the chance to post about it.) Huzzah! It looks wonderful and I can’t wait to read the rest of the poems. So happy to be a contributor – I’ve loved inkscrawl for years.

Here’s my own contribution: “Betweening

This poem was first born years ago, back in the summer of 2009. That first version was much longer, and it took me eight edits – the eighth happening after a four-year break from the poem – to pare it down to what it is now. It’s quite rare for me to have so many versions of a poem. But I’m really happy with the version now published! Eight lines is much better than the original 20-line version. The last three lines are the only ones that have remained virtually unchanged throughout the process.

*

And then some forthcoming poetry news: the Origami Poems Project will be publishing a micro-collection of my poetry! I love their concept and am so glad to have a small collection coming out. It’s called Watching the City, and contains six Helsinki-inspired poems. Consider it a prelude of sorts to my still-in-the-works “proper” chapbook. The origami collection will be free to print from the website. Open-access pocket poetry!

Sunday recs: Recent faves

Here’s some stories I’ve read and really enjoyed these past few days:

Forestspirit, Forestspirit by Bogi Takács (in Clarkesworld) – a great SF piece, and superyay for nonbinary character and nonviolence!

The Cure by Malinda Lo (in the new issue of Interfictions) – feat. a great atmosphere and creepy (based on history) hysteria cures.

Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds by Rose Lemberg (in Beneath Ceaseless Skies) – oh this one made me especially happy. Rose Lemberg’s writing is utterly gorgeous, and I am soooo into hopeful fantasy stories. Also, the novelette form is excellent for more intricate worldbuilding and really getting into a story; Rose uses it to great effect here.

Lengthening nights

During May a lingering flu, grant applications, and other PhD work basically ate up all my energy. But now I’ve been getting into the writing groove again. I finished and submitted a story on Monday in a glorious frenzy. I submitted two more stories yesterday. I’ve been dipping my toes into poetry again. I’m pondering diving back into the novel I started in April. Before I do that, though, there’s a short story to write in Finnish for a tiny competition. Writing! Huzzah!

This summer is going to be really busy: a work trip to the UK, a folk music festival, a friend’s wedding, and a two-week summer school. Plus a load of other academic work. But despite all the work-busyness and travel, I will keep writing as much as I can. I’m super into my PhD work; but creative writing is what keeps me feeling like me, and I need to keep doing it or I’ll start feeling miserable.

The lengthening nights are making it even more difficult for a night-owl like me to go to bed at sensible hours, but I don’t mind. Oh Finnish summer, this glorious three-month burst of sun, joy, bright nights!