Alphabet of Embers contributor copy

I’ve been quiet on the blog front, but for a pretty good reason, I think: all through August, I’ve been hard at work revising my novel. I’ll post more on that later, but for now, a bit of squee!

Last week I received my contributor copy of An Alphabet of Embers. My reaction:

for aoe post

It is such a beautiful book! Likhain’s illustrations really pop out in the print version, too.

This is the first contributor copy of an actual book that I’ve ever received. Milestone! I’ve previously received a contributor copy of the Finnish magazine Spin, but a book is, well, a book! It feels special. I felt so happy seeing my name there on the back cover, in the ToC, and aaaah my story in this wonderful book – it’s a glorious thing! This project has been one of the coolest things I’ve been involved with in the SFF scene so far.

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“Water, Birch, and Blood” out in Strange Horizons!

My story “Water, Birch, and Blood” is now out in Strange Horizons! It’s a portal fantasy (of sorts) with a queer female couple, set in a Finnish summer cabin. Birds, birches, quiet magic.

Water, Birch, and Blood

"Full Moon" by O Horvath

“Full Moon” by O Horvath

Featuring beautiful art by O Horvath!

“Water, Birch, and Blood” is also available in podcast form here, read by the lovely Anaea Lay.

***

Story notes: I started this story in summer 2014, trying to finish it for an anthology call which I didn’t submit to in the end (I can’t remember if I self-rejected or ran out of time). I wrote the first draft in a few days and it’s actually surprisingly similar to the final version. Then the story sat abandoned for a year and a half – I had actually forgotten I’d written it, and definitely didn’t remember I’d managed to complete it. But the call for Our Queer Planet nudged my memory, and I was pleased to discover that the story didn’t need a complete overhaul. The main difference is that it used to be in third person; but first person ended up suiting the intimate, introspective tone much better.

I used bits of Finnish bird mythology for inspiration. Corvids are basically seen as kind of evil (or a bad omen at least) in Finnish mythology, so far as I’ve been able to find out. Of course, the corvids in this story aren’t quite that black and white (except for the magpies hehehe :D). Crows were sometimes seen as messengers. Birds in general are very important in Finnish mythology and folklore.

I spent many of my happiest childhood moments in a cabin very similar to the one I’ve set “Water, Birch, and Blood” in. I miss that place a lot, and always feel a strange joy when I can include bits and pieces of it in my fiction.

I am very fond of this story, and I hope you enjoy it! I’m thrilled to be part of Our Queer Planet.

An Alphabet of Embers cover reveal!

Squee! Cover reveal day for An Alphabet of Embers, an anthology of unclassifiables, edited by Rose Lemberg and including a story by yours truly!

Look at the pretty!

And here is Sofia Samatar’s blurb for the book:

“An Alphabet of Embers pulses with passionate lyricism. These tales burn, rage, comfort, and light the night. Each piece gives off its own particular glow; together, they illuminate a startling new landscape of speculative fiction, of world literature, of language.” -Sofia Samatar, World Fantasy Award winner

This is going to be an amazing thing, and I’m not just saying that because I’ve got my own cow in the ditch (as we say in Finnish). Really happy to be part of this project. Publication in early 2016!

Worldcon in Helsinki in 2017!

So, Helsinki won the bid for Worldcon in 2017! I’m incredibly excited about this news! It’s going to be so awesome. My hometown is a fabulous spot for Worldcon (I MIGHT be a bit biased, of course :D), and Finnish cons are really well organised so I know this one will be too. I’m just ridiculously excited that writers whose work I admire may be coming to my city in two years.

Worldcon, a bike ride away from my house! HOW COOL IS THAT.

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…)

Spec poetry article at Bookslut

Bookslut has an article on speculative poetry by Sessily Watt, featuring a review of Stone Telling 11. (The existence of this piece was kindly pointed out to me by Carrie Naughton. Thanks, Carrie!)

I was pretty much over the moon when I saw that the article includes a discussion of my poem “Kuura (extract from a Finnish-English dictionary)”. This is the first time someone has analysed my stuff in such depth. I feel so humbled and excited by this!

From the article:

The poem gains a different reading from being placed within a magazine of speculative poetry, in which the unreal can be real. Just as the title invokes cultural crossings and dual-interpretations, the movement between Finnish and English, the speculative allows the descriptions to be both metaphor and real at once.

Literary analysis. ABOUT MY POEM. I squeed so hard when I saw this, it was a bit embarrassing but luckily it was at 2am and I was home alone. :D

The article is a great perspective into speculative poetry in general, too: Sessily Watt, disillusioned by fiction, stumbled into the world of spec poetry and discovered she liked it. There’s also a good discussion of Ruth Jenkins’ awesome hyperlink poem Scales, in the same issue of ST.

“Raw Honey” in Strange Horizons

My poem “Raw Honey” is up in the latest issue of Strange Horizons. Yay! I’m so happy to be part of such a wonderful magazine, and for the second time too.

Read the poem here!

I’m well pleased with this poem. In my mind it’s set in the same world as my previous SH poem (“Wolf Daughter”) – a magical forested land inspired by Finnish mythology but not drawing directly from it. This wasn’t planned, but happened organically – when I wrote “Raw Honey”, only later did I realise that there might be a connection with the previous poem. There may be more where these two come from, too.

Story sale to An Alphabet of Embers

I’m delighted to announce that my story ‘The City Beneath the Sea’ will be appearing in the anthology An Alphabet of Embers, edited by Rose Lemberg and published by Stone Bird Press.

I am so happy to be involved with something this awesome. An Alphabet of Embers sounds like it’s going to be utterly beautiful:

“An Alphabet of Embers would live in that space between poetry and prose, between darkness and sound, between roads and breaths, its pages taut with starlight; between its covers, words would talk to each other, and have an occasional cup of tea.”
– Rose Lemberg (from the Kickstarter page)

Short story publication: Chrysopoeia

Be still, my heart!

Quantum Fairy Tales has published my short story ‘Chrysopoeia’! This is officially my first story publication of more than 600 words, so I’m super excited.

Read it here. A wee snippet from the middle:

When his alarm clock rang, Simon snapped awake with the word chrysopoeia running through his mind like a fleeing stag. Chrysopoeia: the transmutation of base elements into gold, his lifelong goal. In order to achieve chrysopoeia, he had to create a true philosopher’s stone, not just the unerringly delicious drink that he mixed several times a night.

It’s about an alchemist bartender. I originally wrote it in a more fairytale-like style ages ago, and because I started it before I knew anything about alchemy, the alchemical theory in it was utterly nonexistent. I rewrote it at the start of this summer, which included adding some “genuine” touches concerning alchemical theory and history, from the readings I’d been doing for my PhD application. I’m really proud of the story in its current published incarnation. (Code for: when I found out it got published just now, I jumped up and down yelling happy obscenities and poured myself another glass of wine.)

I hope you enjoy ‘Chrysopoeia’! Check out the rest of the Fall issue, too. It looks great.

Sunday recs: Everything Martha Wells has ever written

I was introduced to Martha Wells’ books earlier this year through this squee post by Kate Elliott (whose work I love, as I’ve mentioned before on this blog).

I’m so glad I discovered Martha Wells! I’ve been reading everything of hers that I’ve been able to get my hands on. Wells is an amazing worldbuilder – such unique, well-thought-out worlds – but more than that, she’s a great storyteller. I’ve nommed all her books really quickly, because the plots progress with such addictive pacing that I don’t want to put them down.

I’ve especially loved the Fall of Ile-Rien Trilogy (among the best books I’ve read this year, by far! such amazing characters and world and asdgjhsdgl squee), and the Books of the Raksura. I’m currently reading the third book of the Raksura, The Siren Depths (after swiftly devouring the second book The Serpent Sea), and had to consciously stop myself from gulping it down all in one sitting. (I had things to do today, after all.) I just love Wells’ characters, her settings, just, all of it. I can only hope to be as good a writer as her some day.

In conclusion: wow, much awesome, such addictive. Do yourself a favour and read Martha Wells. I’m going to go and read some more of The Siren Depths in bed now. Will try not to stay up too late…