“Creation” out in Flash Fiction Online

I’m happy to announce that my flash piece “Creation” is now out in the August issue of Flash Fiction Online.

You can read it here: Creation

It’s a story of Faerie, with an emphasis on language and Welsh things. I’ve visited the Welsh castle referred to in “Creation” myself, a few times: it’s a majestic place. (A seagull once stole my sandwich in Conwy town, but that hasn’t reduced my enjoyment of the castle.)

This story was born out of a writing exercise. From late 2013 to early 2015 I had a sporadic but persistent project where I wrote something – poems or short story snippets – based on the pictures in the 33 abandoned places in this post. The zero draft of “Creation” was written already in December 2013, inspired by picture #5, “The abandoned Wonderland Amusement Park outside Beijing, China”. I don’t know how I ended up writing about Faerie for that picture, but that’s how it turned out from the very start.

David Gray /Getty Images

David Gray /Getty Images

(Another of those abandoned-place stories has been published, too: The Ruin in Luna Station Quarterly, inspired by picture #8.)

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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 is out!

An Alphabet of Embers cover art by Galen Dara

An Alphabet of Embers cover art by Galen Dara

An Alphabet of Embers is now out in print form! Yaaay!

I’ve read AoE as an e-ARC, and while I am obviously biased, I’m also just stunned by how awesome this anthology is. The wonderful Rose Lemberg and the editorial team have done such a great job in arranging these strange tales, like a variety of luminous beads on a string.

And the art! The cover art, by Galen Dara, really captures the tone of the anthology with its eerieness and luminosity. And the interior art by Likhain! Aaah, I can’t wait to get my print contributor copy so that I can savour Likhain’s art bigger than it was on my ereader screen. She is one of my favourite contemporary artists.

From my dream diary

From my dream diary

I’m very proud of my contribution to the anthology, “The City Beneath the Sea”. This small story has a rather unusual origin (for me): it was actually a dream I had. Not all of it, of course – but I did dream the basic form of the story on 19 January 2013 (the pic above is from my dream diary). I added characters, an ending and made things more grounded – but it’s rather remarkable that the core elements were all there in the dream. Thanks, subconscious! I ended up writing the story in one day, in autumn 2014, inspired to check out my dream diary by the call for submissions for AoE. “The City Beneath the Sea” is one of those rare stories that flowed quick and easy from start to finish.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have other pro fiction sales since, but AoE was my first, and what a wonderful place for a first sale! I highly recommend this anthology – the quality and breadth of stories is wonderful.

Poem in Abyss & Apex!

So I think I forgot to announce the sale, but – my short poem “After Selling Your Soul to the Trickster God” is now up in the newest issue of Abyss & Apex!

Read it here!

This short poem was born this past January. I wanted to get across a sense of movement and dance – often my desire, to capture those physical things in words. I hope you enjoy it!

Story sale to Strange Horizons

I’m delighted to announce that I’ve sold a story to Strange Horizons: “Water, Birch, and Blood” will be appearing in SH’s special issue Our Queer Planet.

“Water, Birch, and Blood” is about family, memory, and loss; it’s got echoes of my own memories in it, through the setting (a Finnish summer cabin). I can’t wait for you to get to read it.

New poem: “Witch’s Lens” in Polu Texni

My poem “Witch’s Lens” is out in Polu Texni!

Read it here: “My witchery awakens / with the rising season.”

I wrote this poem in April 2014, and edited it around a year later based on feedback from my writing group. (Yes, sometimes my poetry progresses veeery slowly, with edits happening ages after the first draft was written in a frenzy.) Another poem that improved significantly with the help of suggestions from my lovely group. <3

Sadly, unlike in the poem, Finland is still in winter's grip – we've got sun at last (sun! sun! sun!) but it's still close to zero and there's frost at night. I hope true spring comes soon and all things begin to grow. To paraphrase my poem: I want my witchery to awaken, my winter-faded soul to strengthen. I've been winter-tired and mired in a thousand busy things, but perhaps with the turning year I too can turn, awake and begin to live again.

Poem sale to Strange Horizons

“Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!” she chortled in her joy.

So yeah, I’ve sold a poem to Strange Horizons! Huzzah! “Taboo” will appear this summer. It’s got a fox in it.

I’m intensely happy about this, my first poetry sale of 2016. I love SH so much. This will be my third poem appearing in the magazine (the previous ones being Wolf Daughter and Raw Honey). Funnily enough, although I didn’t initially intend it to, “Taboo” fits in quite well with the Finnish-tinged fantasy/fairytale world of the other two poems.

“Storm-yarn” in issue 9 of inkscrawl!

The newest issue of inkscrawl is up – and with it, my poem “Storm-yarn”. I’m really looking forward to reading the other poems in this issue – guest editor Bogi Takács has got together some really exciting poets! And a nice big issue. Yesss.

I wrote “Storm-yarn” in August specifically for the submission call for this issue, but the original inspiration comes from a story I started in 2007 (!). I never did finish the story – it wasn’t really very good – but the notion of knitting up a storm came from there. I wrote a short poem-draft based around the idea in December 2012, but it went no further till Bogi announced the topic for issue 9 (Atypical Weather), and my brain started ferreting around for ideas. “Storm-yarn” bears no similarity to the poem from 2012, but the same idea of yarn and storms is there – and now it’s finally out in a form that I’m very happy with.