The Final Story “Soul-Hungry”

Below, dear reader, please find bonus content for Suzanne’s book: ELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction.

This series of posts provides stories-behind-the-stories for each tale in ELEMENTS.

The last story in the Table of Contents is: Soul-Hungry


The last story in ELEMENTS  was written specifically for the collection.

Near the beginning of January of 2013, my publisher sent me three different cover art possibilities for the collection. I studied them carefully, but none of them spoke to me. I selected the one that I felt was the best of the three. He agreed that my choice was adequate and he also felt somewhat uninspired.

Fast forward to January 30th when he sent me an email that read…

I was not happy with the way the cover design was heading, so I’ve switched things up. What do you think of this cover mockup?

For the other cover options I had sent emails to my “peeps” asking them which cover they liked. But for THIS cover by Neil Jackson I immediately responded…

I love this cover. The font, the shadows in the background, all of it!

Elements-5.5x8.5-100dpi-c8And so, the cover of ELEMENTS  was chosen. Release the doves!

From the moment that I saw the cover, I was inspired to write a story. At that point in the editorial process, we had pretty much decided on the stories and the order they would appear in the collection, except for one story that we were debating replacing.

So I suggested that I write a story based on the cover. The publisher agreed.

On the 13th of February I sent him Soul-Hungry  and after a minor edit, it became the last story in the collection.

Fun Fact

I’ve always loved the word “posse” which I believe resonates more than words like “friends” or “peeps” and I tend to use it liberally in conversation.

I’d already submitted the Acknowledgements page before I even considered writing Soul-Hungry. In retrospect, I’m glad that I had thanked Sandra Kasturi and Marcy Italiano as my “girl-posse” because after writing Soul-Hungry, the term had that much more meaning to me.

It really does take a posse to put a book together. I can’t possibly list everyone here, but the people who come to mind first are:

My publisher at EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing: Brian Hades. And the rest of the remarkable people at EDGE including Ella Beaumont, Aviva Bel’Harold, Anita Hades, and Janice Shoults. And a big WOW to Neil Jackson for the fantastic cover.

My DC2K writers’ group: Eugie Foster, Lisa Guilfoil, Scott Hancock, Amy Herring, Teresa Howard, Alan Koslow, Aaron Longoria, Jenna Lundeen, Linda Pickett, Gwen Veazey, and Debbie Yutko.

My Stop-Watch Gang writers’ group: Richard Baldwin, Bard Carson, Costi Gurgu, Ian Donald Keeling, Stephen Kotowych, Tony Pi, Mike Rimar, and Pippa Wysong.

My Writing in the ‘Loo writers’ group: Suzanne Carter, Stella Congi, Rick Hipson, Marcy Italiano, Danielle Lowry, Nick Matthews, Sarah Tolmie, and Catherine Warren.

The authors who graciously read early ARCs of ELEMENTS  and “blurbed” the collection: Kelley Armstrong, Ed Greenwood, Kij Johnson, Nancy Kilpatrick, David Morrell, and Robert J. Sawyer.

Fellow EDGE author Michael J. Martineck who’s generously donated his time and expertise to help organize the best double-book-launch of all time at Ad Astra this coming April 5th.

The group of attendees at the Clarion South 2005 workshop in Brisbane, Australia, and especially tutors Ellen Datlow, Ian Irvine, Margo Lanagan, Michael Swanwick, Scott Westerfeld, and Sean Williams.

The 2004 group of attendees at the two-week short fiction workshop at the Center for the Study of Science Fiction, and especially teachers James Gunn, Kij Johnson, and Chris McKitterick.

My friends and family…you know who you are!

Cue the curtain and turn up the house lights. That’s a wrap.

And so ends the month-long adventure of blogging the stories behind the stories in ELEMENTS. I hope that you — dear readers — enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy sharing this journey.

See you on the book tour.


Elements LJ sizeELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction is available in Canada and the USA from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.

Exploring Gender Issues in “The Flower Gathering”

Elements LJ sizeBelow, dear reader, please find bonus content for Suzanne’s book: ELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction.

This series of posts provides stories-behind-the-stories for each tale in ELEMENTS.

Sitting in the 19th slot in the Table of Contents is: The Flower Gathering


As a woman writing genre fiction, I’ve heard the “equality” debates and “gender” discussions enough to understand my position in the mix.

I’m a woman. (go figure)

I write Fantasy (so do plenty of other women). I also write Science Fiction and Horror. So do…oh, wait a minute.

tiptreeawardSearch on “gender” on any speculative fiction blog/website and you’ll have plenty of reading material. There’s so much dialogue on the topic that there’s even an award specifically designed to initiate the gender conversation in speculative fiction.

From the Wikipedia entry,

The James Tiptree, Jr. Award is an annual literary prize for works of science fiction or fantasy that expand or explore one’s understanding of gender.

I wrote The Flower Gathering  as a way of exploring the gender topic. I wanted to ask the question, “What if a colony was designed, populated, and governed entirely by women?”

Tecmessa is the Prime Minister of the Pyleia  colony on Titan. She describes the colony’s origins in her own words:

On Titan, our settlement, named after the Greek Amazon Telepyleia, had been populated only with women. To escape the war-ravaged turmoil of Earth, our foremothers organized the evacuation, built the transport ships, and gathered supplies, all with minimal male assistance. Radical lesbians, the original colonists believed men were a threat to a sustainable civilization. They sought a place to build a new culture.

All sociological arguments aside, a single-gender population can’t biologically sustain itself. So the colonists in my story had to build rules to be able to procreate and sustain their population.

carnationThe Flower Gathering  takes place more than a generation after the fictional colony is established. The frozen sperm samples show signs of deterioration and need to be replenished with carefully bred donors.

But if they allow men to be born into their population, they need to ensure that they will always remain a minority in the population, so they pass the “law of the fourths.”

All pregnancies occur via in vitro fertilization, selectively breeding girls. If a woman wants to bear a son, she can only choose a male embryo after she’s successfully delivered three healthy girls.

Fun Fact

With a title like, The Flower Gathering  several types of flowers are mentioned in the story.

fabric carnationI garden. I wouldn’t say I’m good — more like competent. This story provided an opportunity for me to share my love of flowers and the feeling I get when something I’ve planted and nurtured blossoms. I haven’t had much success with carnations, but they are one of my favourite flowers.

Since the story takes place inside a domed colony on Titan, I had to be careful about what plants the colonists would have brought with them and what they would spend valuable resources growing and nurturing. They wouldn’t bother with ornamental plants like roses and carnations, so Tecmessa has to create her own carnations with fabric scraps and glue.

220px-Okie_0102The colonists would need to eat, so they’d bring harvest seeds. But what about coffee?

Coffee is too hard to grow in a domed environment, but I wanted the characters to have a tolerable substitute. After some research, I discovered that okra is easier to grow and you can roast its seeds as a coffee substitute AND eat it as a nutritious vegetable.

The blooms, seen in this photo, are white with a dark center.


Elements LJ sizeELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction is available in Canada and the USA from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.

Interview: Mark T. Barnes

Mark Barnes was born in Sydney, Australia, in September of 1966. A strong athlete, he was also drawn to the arts at a young age, penning his first short story as a seven-year-old. He worked in finance and advertising before establishing himself in IT services management. Currently he owns and operates a freelance organizational change consultancy.

Mark Barnes headshotIn 2005, when Mark was selected to attend the Clarion South residential short story workshop, he began to write with the intention of making it more than a hobby. Since that time, Mark has published a number of short stories, worked as a freelance script editor, and has driven creative consultancy for a television series.

Mark is the author of the Echoes of Empire series, published by 47North. The series includes The Garden of Stones (May 2013), The Obsidian Heart (Oct 2013), and The Pillars of Sand (May 2014).

You can find out more at his website, his Facebook page, or follow @MarkTBarnes on Twitter.


Suzanne Church: The Echoes of Empire trilogy includes The Garden of Stones (May 2013), The Obsidian Heart (Oct 2013), and The Pillars of Sand (May 2014). For a first-time author, that’s an incredibly tight schedule. How did you write three rich and detailed fantasy novels so close together?

Cover Garden of Stones miniMark T. Barnes: Thanks Suzanne. I run my own business and was in a position to take some time away from work to write The Garden of Stones. The world was created first, along with all the histories, cultures, and social mores. That determined the story I could tell, which in turn informed the characters I thought best to tell it.

The Garden of Stones underwent some changes but was finished pending the publisher’s editing process in 2012. The Echoes of Empire series was planned as a number of trilogies, so when we got the deal for the first three books, it was only two that needed to be written.

I ended up sacrificing a fair bit. My social life was virtually non-existent, and thankfully those closest to me were understanding. I’d returned to work, so was either working or writing for between 15 and 19 hours a day in order to deliver the 280K words of the next two books in about nine months. I don’t recommend it.

SC: What fraction of your world-building is based on Earth’s socio-political and environmental principles and how much is pure imagination?

Cover Obsidian Heart miniMTB: I researched systems of government as the grass roots for how the politics would work, then made the rest up to suit the world and its history. I wanted something unique, complex, and baroque, where the political system was as much there to administer the nation as it was there to protect the people from the worst of their own dark and savage past.

SC: If your characters were real people, which one would you choose to interview first on your blog. Why?

MTB: Definitely Indris. His backstory is rich, and filled with adventure, excitement, honour, sacrifice, sorrow, and joy. He’s seen a lot of the world in his thirty something years, and is an educated man with a deep curiosity about the world.

SC: Describe two aspects about living in Sydney that’ve influenced your prose.

MTB: That’s a difficult question, as my prose was changed to be more amenable to American readers. I remember the first draft had almost no instances of “but”, “just”, “that”, or “and”. I certainly would never have started sentences with those words. Most of the cultural influences of being an Australian were around landscapes and their descriptions, and some of the dialogue.

Cover The Pillars of Sand miniSC: What advice do you have for new writers searching for an agent?

MTB: I wrote the article Finding An Agent on my MarkTBarnes.com blog that provides a more detailed answer to that question. The single most important piece of advice would be to do your homework. An agent is your advocate and ally, as well as your voice to the publishers. They will spend a lot of time representing you, so it needs to be somebody you believe will be passionate about your project.

My suggestion is to see whether your writing style and subject matter is similar to that of other established authors, then find out who represents them. An agent who represents work similar in nature to your own has demonstrated their passion for the genre, their knowledge of it, as well as their knowledge of who publishes it.

SC: What are you working on now?

MTB: I’m working on two projects now. A near future urban fantasy that my agent has finished reading Act I of and seems to quite like, so we’ll discuss what our next steps are. The other is another epic fantasy set in Īa. New characters, in a different part of the world. These books occur at roughly the same time as the first three Echoes of Empire books.

SC: You write rich and complex worlds, and the characters that go with them. What is it about world building that you enjoy?

MTB: Speculative fiction gives us great freedom to explore the boundaries of worlds. I enjoy the challenge of a blank canvas and filling it with history, exploration, societal rises and collapses, people of interest, etc. I think a strong world, which is consistent and works on clearly understood rules, provides a solid foundation

For the following flash questions, try to answer with the first idea that pops into your head.

SC: Imagine a prison of eternal misery. Is it hot or cold?

MTB: Hot! I live in a hot country and it gets pretty miserable when you don’t want to go outside because you might spontaneously combust.

SC: If you were only allowed to read ONE book more than once in your lifetime, what book would you choose?

MTB: Dune, by Frank Herbert.

SC: Santoku or chef’s knife?

MTB: Santoku. Or better yet a dragon tooth long-knife from my books.

SC: Stickers on your laptop or pure out-of-the-box plain?

MTB: Clean and simple! No stickers for me.

SC: At the beach do you soak up the sun’s rays, rush into the water, or read in the shade?

MTB: You’ve seen me Suzanne. 🙂 With blue eyes, fair skin, and fair hair I tend to avoid the beaches in Australia. When I do go, I stick to the shade in the hottest part of the day. The water is for the early mornings, afternoon, evening, or night.

SC: Music while writing, or total silence? And if you chose music, name three inspirations.

MTB: Soundtracks definitely. Anything by Hans Zimmer, Bear McCreary, Cliff Martinez, or Trevor Morris. Some favorites are the original sound tracks for Black Sails, Sunshine, Man of Steel, and The Dark Knight.

SC: Thanks for participating in this blog tour!

MTB: Thanks for having me! I hope your readers enjoy it.

My Schedule for Ad Astra

Ad Astra Convention is April 4th to 6th.

Elements-5.5x8.5-100dpi-c8MilkMan-Cover miniI will be co-hosting a book launch party on Saturday night with Michael J. Martineck on Saturday night from 9PM to midnight. Please join us in celebrating the launch of…

ELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction

and

The Milkman

We’d love it if you would RSVP via the Facebook Events page. Come for the cake, stay for the fun!

My other panels at the con are:

Saturday, Apr 5 10:00-11:00 AM The Writing Life, Ada Hoffman, Julie Czerneda, Karina Sumner-Smith, Stephanie Bedwell-Grime, Suzanne Church (Newmarket)

Saturday, Apr 5 12:00-1:00 PM READING – Writing in the ‘Loo, Marcy Italiano, Sarah Tolmie, Suzanne Church (Markham A)

Saturday, Apr 5 2:00-4:00 PM GoH + Many Other Authors Signing A mass autograph session. Bring your copies of ELEMENTS (available at the Bakka Phoenix Books table in the Dealers’ Room) to be signed (Richmond A)

Saturday, Apr 5 4:00-5:00 PM READING – Stop-Watch Gang, Ian Donald Keeling, Mike Rimar, Pippa Wysong, Stephen Kotowych, Suzanne Church (Oakridges)

I hope to see you at the party and around the convention.

Setting “Mod Me Down” in New York City

“Mod Me Down”

Elements LJ sizeBelow, dear reader, please find bonus content for Suzanne’s book: ELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction.

This series of posts provides stories-behind-the-stories for each tale in ELEMENTS.

Sitting in the 17th slot in the Table of Contents is: Mod Me Down


Mod Me Down  is a new story, published for the first time in ELEMENTS.

I wrote the original zero draft of this story for week two of Clarion South in January of 2005. Although the central idea of the story has remained, pretty much all of the story has been trashed, rewritten, then trashed and rewritten some more.

Here’s a tip, new writers out there…ideas are worth overhauling until you get them right.

Mod Me Down  takes place in New York City, one of those quintessential locations in North American culture that has to be experienced firsthand. I’ve been lucky enough to visit NYC twice.

Duckie contemplates Liberty miniOn my first visit to the big apple, my then-husband and I spent a whirlwind weekend in Manhattan. I’m a super-sightseer (and so is he) so we maximized our time and saw so many locations I can’t remember them all, but many of the scenes in Mod Me Down  are drawn from that trip, including our afternoon in Battery Park.

Duckie at the NYC library miniMy absolute favourite site was the reading room at the NYC Public Library.

Our kids were pretty young while we were travelling. One of our family traditions was to take pictures of a carefully selected family stuffy as evidence that Mom and Dad (and the stuffy) were having fun on our trip.

For the NYC trip, Duckie tagged along. In this photo evidence, Duckie contemplates the meaning of freedom by gazing at the Statue of Liberty from Battery Park and then lies on a table at the library, awed by the size and scope of the place.

Fun Fact

The first time I ever ate a knish was on my first trip to NYC. I loved them so much that I had to have Lucas eat a knish in Mod Me Down . While I’ve come across knishes in Toronto, I’ve never had one as good or as memorable as that first one in NYC. In Lucas’s words…

Outside, I ripped soft chunks of onion-and-spinach-flavored potato from a knish and shoved them in my mouth. The taste spoke of heaven and earth united.

The irony is that since that trip, I’ve developed a digestive disorder, and I can no longer eat spinach or onions. So no more of that flavor of knish for me. 🙁

But sitting here at my desk, thinking about that knish, my mouth is really watering. Man, I ‘d love to eat one right now.


Elements LJ sizeELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction is available in Canada and the USA from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.

Hell’s About the Details

Elements LJ sizeBelow, dear reader, please find bonus content for Suzanne’s book: ELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction.

This series of posts provides stories-behind-the-stories for each tale in ELEMENTS.

Sitting in the 16th slot in the Table of Contents is: Hell’s Deadline


Albert Einstein said:

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

I definitely agree with Einstein on this one.

I’ve been caught in the spiral of obsessing over something over and over and not getting anywhere. We all have. So much so that the notion of endless repetition became the plot of the Bill Murray 1993 classic movie Groundhog Day.

I wanted to explore the frustration of endless repetition in a short story. Around the same time that I was noodling the plot, book of dead things coverBook of Dead Things  put out a call out for submissions.

Perfect timing!

Re-imagining Groundhog Day  in HELL gave me the opportunity to write about Dead Things — dead people damned to hell — and the idea that eternal damnation involved reliving the moment of choice over and over again.

You know the choice I mean.

The choice that condemns your soul. That one decision that pushes your name from Santa’s good list to his naughty list.

To quote the protagonist, Debbie:

Hell’s all about the details.

Book of Dead Things  launched at World Horror Convention in 2007, the year that Toronto hosted the con. So I was lucky enough to participate in the launch, where I read a short excerpt of Hell’s Deadline.

I stuck around after our launch and was fortunate to hear Ramsey Campbell followed by Joe R. Lansdale read their fiction. (Or maybe it was the other way around, I can’t recall.)

Even though I’d read their fiction before, their readings turned me into fans that day.

Fun Fact
In Hell’s Deadline  Debbie walks along a wooded trail through…

…the pine stands. Towering poles grow straight toward the reddish sky, planted in endless rows.

Fact: Close to where I live, there’s a section of The Walter Bean Grand River Trail. I’ve spent countless hours biking, running, and walking along the trail.

One stretch winds past pine stands. And the trees really do grow in perfect rows.

Once the snow melts, I’ll bike the trail and take a photo to add here.


Elements LJ sizeELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction is available in Canada and the USA from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.

Giving “The Tear Closet” a Second Chance

Elements LJ sizeBelow, dear reader, please find bonus content for Suzanne’s book: ELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction.

This series of posts provides stories-behind-the-stories for each tale in ELEMENTS.

Sitting in the 15th slot in the Table of Contents is: The Tear Closet


Of all of the stories in ELEMENTS, I would have to say that The Tear Closet speaks closest to my heart’s truth. It is also one of the stories that helped me to truly break out as a writer.

This story marked my first appearance in the Tesseracts anthologies, an annual series of Canadian speculative fiction published by EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing. And two writers that I truly respect — Nancy Kilpatrick and David Morrell — edited Tesseracts Thirteen. I’m grateful for their support for this story, as well as their ongoing kindnesses. Both Nancy and David read an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) of ELEMENTS and provided generous quotes for the book.

Tesseracts_XIIICover miniAfter I submitted to T13 and was waiting to hear back from the editors, my friend and fellow writer Louise Herring-Jones took David Morrell’s writing workshop, which was offered right before World Fantasy Convention (WFC) began in Calgary, Alberta in 2008.

Before I arrived at the con, Louise emailed me to say that David Morrell liked my story, but didn’t think the ending worked in its current state.

Once I arrived at WFC, I approached David Morrell and asked about the story. Over lunch we discussed Tear Closet and brainstormed possible endings.

I cannot thank David Morrell enough for (a) generously sharing his time to brainstorm the ending (b) giving the story a second chance and (c) being so supportive of my career since then.

Thanks also to Louise Herring-Jones for chatting me up with her instructor. She’s always been (and continues to be) an ardent supporter of my work!

Fun Fact
In the story, Mabel walks over a long bridge.

Bridges and Structures Morrison HershfieldFact: the bridge in the story is the real-life Leaside Bridge in Toronto’s East York. The bridge has six lanes of traffic and passes over the Don River, the Don Valley, and the Don Valley Parkway, and this photo doesn’t really do it justice.

When I was a kid, we used to have to make the ten+ minute walk over this bridge to get to the shopping mall nearest to where we lived. We would often stop partway along and look down…way, way down…at the river and valley and cars below. And let me tell you, it’s a looong way down.

I’m also reasonably certain that the Leaside Bridge is the main reason why my mother and I are both afraid of heights.

As a kid, during the whole trip across I’d imagine all of the ways that the bridge could fail: earthquake, tidal wave, explosives, car crashes — growing up during an era when disaster movies about earthquakes and tidal waves were popular is probably partly to blame for this doom-agination.

I used to count to sixty in my head, trying to guess how many more minutes before I’d safely make it to land on the other side. And with my heart pumping in terror, I had to be careful not to trip and end up getting run over by a car racing along the bridge (which in retrospect was much more likely than the bridge collapsing from an earthquake).


Elements LJ sizeELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction is available in Canada and the USA from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.

The Inspiration for “Synch Me, Kiss Me, Drop”

Elements LJ sizeBelow, dear reader, please find bonus content for Suzanne’s book: ELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction.

This series of posts provides stories-behind-the-stories for each tale in ELEMENTS.

Sitting in the 12th slot in the Table of Contents is: Synch Me, Kiss Me, Drop


The music-snorting dance-club hopping story, Synch Me, Kiss Me, Drop was probably born during my university work-terms in the 80s, when I used to frequent clubs like RPM and The Copa in Toronto.

Synch Me  is still available to read online at cw_68Clarkesworld, and is also available as a podcast on their site.

Like “Destiny Lives in the Tattoo’s Needle”, Synch Me  was a finalist for an Aurora Award (in 2013).

I love music. We’re talking a serious obsession here.

When I write, I listen to music. I’m much more productive with music playing. And on the days that I forget my headphones, I’m somewhat cranky by the end of a writing session at a cafe.

When I participate in NaNoWriMo I create a special playlist for that new novel. Whenever I go back to edit the novel, or submit queries to agents and/or editors, I usually play the tunes I selected for that novel’s creation.

I always drive with tunes in the car. And whenever I’m a passenger in someone else’s car, and I they won’t offer me the controls to song-selection…well let’s just say everyone is happier if Suzanne is allowed to play DJ.

I was destined to write a story inspired by music.

My two sons listen to two types of Electronic Dance Music (EDM): Dubstep and House music. They both attended The Veld music festival in 2012 and 2013.

And since EDM is tech-savvy, I was inspired to write a cyberpunk story where people can snort music directly into their minds like a drug.

The better clubs brought all the vibes together, so that every song you sampled was in perfect synch with the club mix on the speakers. When the drop hit, everyone jumped and screamed in coordinated rapture.

If not for my kids’ enthusiasm for EDM (as well as their explanation of “the drop”), I never would’ve written Synch Me.

Fun Fact

At one point in Synch Me, Alex is trying to decide which song to purchase.

Three tables were set with products in stacks like poker chips. The first was a sea of purple, tiny lower-case “i’s” stamped on every top-forty sample like a catalog from a so-called genius begging on a street corner for spare music. The second was a mish-mash of undergrounds like Skarface, Audexi, and Brachto.

In an earlier draft of the story, I’d written totally different names for the three underground artists. When my older son read it, he said, “Mom, the names for the bands kinda suck. How about I make up some names?”

He made up the artist names: Skarface, Audexi, and Brachto.

Thanks, Joseph!


Elements LJ sizeELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction  is available in Canada and the USA from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.

Interview: Eugie Foster

official_eugiefoster miniEugie Foster calls home a mildly haunted, fey-infested house in metro Atlanta that she shares with her husband, Matthew. After receiving her master’s degree in psychology, she retired from academia to pen flights of fancy. She also edits legislation for the Georgia General Assembly, which from time to time she suspects is another venture into flights of fancy.

Eugie received the 2009 Nebula Award for her novelette, “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast,” the 2011 and 2012 Drabblecast People’s Choice Award for Best Story, the 2012 eFestival of Words Best Independent Short Story Collection eBook Award, and the 2002 Phobos Award. ReturningMySistersFace mini Her fiction has also been translated into eight languages and been a finalist for the Hugo and British Science Fiction Association awards. Her short story collection, Returning My Sister’s Face and Other Far Eastern Tales of Whimsy and Malice, was published in 2009 and has been used as a textbook at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of California-Davis.

Visit her online at EugieFoster.com.


Suzanne Church: We first met at the Dragon Con 2000 writers’ workshop run by Ann C. Crispin, and our writing group that formed as a result of that workshop continues to this day. If 2014 Eugie could speak to 2000 Eugie, what advice would she offer?

Eugie Foster: “Don’t be afraid to lean on people more.” It’s my nature to want to go it alone and not ask for help, but I’ve learned — the hard way, oftentimes — that sometimes I just need to accept the offers of assistance folks are so generous about proffering up, that I’ll burn out if don’t share some of the load. Our writers group epitomizes how supportive the writing community is on both personal and professional levels. I wish I’d started relying on y’all more, sooner.

king_of_rabbits miniSC: When you were first diagnosed with cancer, you hesitated to post the news on your blog. Since then you’ve shared your journey pretty openly via Twitter and your blog. How does sharing the experience help you?

EF: This ties in pretty tightly with the first question. My first impulse was to keep my cancer diagnosis private and deal with the fear and uncertainty, all the ordeals I knew I’d have to go through in the fight to beat it on my own, and I’m so glad I didn’t. The outpouring of support, the shared experiences of other cancer survivors, the reassurance and compassion from friends, colleagues, and strangers — it’s been uplifting, inspiring, and moving beyond words. On my worst days, I re-read some of the comments and notes I’ve gotten, and I always feel better.

SC: Your novelette “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast” won the 2009 Nebula and was nominated for the Hugo, the WSFA Small Press Award, and the BSFA Award. When you were writing the story, did you sense that it was evolving into an extraordinary tale?

EF: Honestly? Yes and no. I think every writer has stories or passages which they feel are extraordinary, something special that evokes a visceral response as the words hit the page. “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest” was like that, but I’ve had other stories which I felt were on par with it which didn’t get the sort of reader response that “Sinner” did, as well as stories which I thought were good, but without that evocative gut-kick it had, that were particularly well received. It’s so hard to gauge how our words will be embraced. I figure, the only thing we as writers can do is craft the best stories we can, send them out, and cross our fingers.

SC: If your characters were real people, which one would you choose to interview first on your blog. Why?

mortalclay_stoneheart miniEF: Ooo, that’s a hard question. Some of my favorite characters are not ones I’d really feel comfortable (i.e., safe) being in the same room with, like Bunny from “The Bunny of Vengeance and the Bear of Death” and Trixie from “Trixie and the Pandas of Dread.” (I’m not sure what it says about me that two of my favorite characters off the top of my head are vengeance gods.) So I guess I’d go with Ayame from “Honor is a Game Mortals Play.” Being a young, half-demon demon hunter, she’d have a unique perspective, not to mention a lot of interesting stories to recount, and she’d be unlikely to whack my head off if I accidentally said something out of line.

SC: You maintain several Children’s Market databases on your website. What motivates you to so generously help others?

EF: Actually, it’s as much a resource for me. It’s as easy for me to keep a market listing online as it is a private spreadsheet, and the virtue of having it on my website is I can access it from any location. I’m just glad that folks find it useful.

SC: What are you working on now?

EF: I’m working on the perpetual novel project—it feels like I’ve always got a novel looming in the background — as well as several short stories for anthology projects I’ve been invited to submit to. Stay tuned on my website for more details as they crop up.

For the following flash questions, try to answer with the first idea that pops into your head.

SC: Imagine a prison of eternal misery. Is it hot or cold?

vampire_quintet miniEF: Cold! Definitely cold. Winter and I don’t get along — which perhaps explains the recurring theme of winter/cold as antagonist in multiple stories I’ve written: “The Reign of the Wintergod,” “Beautiful Winter,” “The Snow Woman’s Daughter,” “Honor is a Game Mortals Play.”

SC: Sweet or savory?

EF: Savory! I’m so addicted to greasy, salty snacks.

SC: Stickers on your laptop or pure out-of-the-box plain?

EF: Um, um, out-of-the-box plain. But only because I’m sure I’d have sticker remorse after committing to whatever sticker(s) I selected and would then just keep adding more and more until I ended up with a chaotic collage plastered so thickly on my laptop I’d have trouble finding the on switch.

SC: You suddenly find yourself with one hour of free time between shifts as editor of The Daily Dragon at Dragon Con. Do you shop in the Dealers’ Room, head over to the Marriott for cosplay-gazing, or grab a quick nap?

EF: Yes! Wait, I mean shopping. No, people watching! Well, maybe a nap would be a good idea. Um. This might explain why I don’t leave Daily Dragon headquarters very often…

SC: Thanks to Eugie Foster for participating in this blog tour!

Because Door Prizes are Fun to Win…

At my upcoming book launches I will be giving away door prizes, because winning makes an event all that more fun!

Here are some of the goodies up for grabs:

Danse-Macabre 3In 2012, my story “Death Over Easy” was chosen by editor Nancy Kilpatrick to be included in the anthology, Danse Macabre: Close Encounters with the Reaper.

Death Over Easy was published too late to be included in ELEMENTS. So winners will receive an extra story from me, not to mention the other 25 stories where death plays a role.

Fellow Stop-Watch Gang member Brad Carson’s story, “Mr. Go Away” is also in Danse Macabre.

Book of Shadows Cover miniIn 2006, my story “Driving the Past Home” was chosen by editor Angela Challis, founder of Brimstone Press to be included in the anthology, Book of Shadows, Volume One.

Book of Shadows includes 42 flash fiction stories from many Australian authors, as well as a few lucky international authors. Each story originally appeared in Shadowed Realms an online horror magazine that is no longer active.

This book was only available for sale in Australia, but I had a few copies shipped to my home. I have one extra copy to give away as a prize at the Waterloo launch of ELEMENTS.

NeoAnthoCoverSmIn 2006, my story “The Wind and the Sky” was chosen by editor Karl Johanson to be included in the anthology, The Best of Neo-opsis Science Fiction Magazine published by Bundoran Press.

The Best of Neo-opsis contains 10 stories by authors from Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, including the works of Hayden Trenholm, Nina Munteanu, and Vaughan Stanger.

Other non-book items will also be available to win. Check this space for updates.