“Before the Fall” by Francis Knight (Orbit)

KnightF-RD2-BeforeTheFallRojan Dizon’s second outing – good, but unfortunately doesn’t live up to potential of book one

MAHALA IS A CITY OF CONTRASTS: LIGHT AND DARK. HOPE AND DESPAIR.

Rojan Dizon just wants to keep his head down. But his worst nightmare is around the corner.

With the destruction of their power source, his city is in crisis: riots are breaking out, mages are being murdered, and the city is divided. But Rojan’s hunt for the killers will make him responsible for all-out anarchy. Either that, or an all-out war.

And there’s nothing Rojan hates more than being responsible.

Back in January, I developed a bit of a book-crush on Fade to Black, the first book in Knight’s Rojan Dizon series. (I believe “ZOMG!” and “amazeballs” were used in the review…) It was with great anticipation, therefore, that I awaited the arrival of Before the Fall. As it turns out, though, this sophomore novel did not live up to my expectations. It retains the marvellous world (well-realised and atmospheric), fascinating and dark magic system, and generally interesting characters. But… Well, there were a lot of issues that I ordinarily would only have expected in a debut novel. Sad to say, this just didn’t grab me as much as the first.

It’s impossible to write about this series without commenting on the world-building. Knight has created and realised a superb setting for her characters: it is a vertical city, hemmed in by mountains (and other, potentially hostile nations). The rich live at the top, and affluence decreases the further down you go. It is a city of suspicions and paranoia in both the lower and upper levels – the Specials keeping order, and strata envy and snobbery all working to keep everyone in their proper place. It is a wonderfully dark and atmospheric setting, and Knight fills the book with great passages that fill out our mental image of the city. (I do hope there are more than three set in it.)

While the character are all interesting and varied, I felt like Before the Fall didn’t advance them as much as I would have liked. Rojan, who should have been a riveting protagonist (partly because of his actions in Fade to Black, but also because of his magic, situation, and so forth), felt flatter than before. The first one hundred pages were frustratingly repetitive in the minutiae – Knight/Rojan frequently informs us that the Black is so close, calling to Rojan whenever he uses his magic; just as we are too frequently informed that everything has become Rojan’s responsibility. On top of that, we also get rather a lot of why and what he likes about women, then how he’s sworn off women but keeps “falling off the wagon”, how he is supposedly suave (yet surrounded by women who are unattainable). We get that he’s a bit of a philanderer and lover of many women, don’t need to keep telling us. It just felt like we got too much of that sort of thing – if this were a movie, it would be like an over-abundance of establishing shots. There is also more-than-necessary rehashing of what happened in the first novel (but, strangely, without as much detail as would perhaps have been useful?). That’s all a bit vague, for which I apologise – I want to avoid offering spoilers for the first novel as well as this one. All of this makes Rojan a less-than-compelling guide for more of the novel than I expected, this time around. Certainly, there are times when he’s an engaging protagonist, and his connection, affection and objection to his own magic is interesting. Also (and this is perhaps a strange thing to notice), but there was a higher-than-average use of the word “fuck” in the first 100 pages or so.

In addition to my issues with characterisation, the main plot took a little too long to get going, and with the repetitious nature of the character-building, it just didn’t hook me for much time. There were fits and starts, when I would devour larger chunks of the story in short sittings, followed by lulls. Par for the course for most novels, I suppose, but it was a noticeably different reading experience to the one I had for Fade to Black. This is a pity, as the investigation and state of affairs are interesting – the fact that Knight discusses how the destruction of the city’s energy source and supply has effected the city and its population is interesting and well done. In this respect, we really get the feeling that the City itself is a character, and I certainly liked the fact that tangible social and economic upheaval was having realistic repercussions on Knight’s world and characters. Public unrest, simmering suspicions and paranoia, and outbursts of misplaced violence are frequent themes.

Overall, then, I would characterise Before the Fall very much as a bridging installment to the series. Take it as a middle-act, rather than a stand-alone, and I think people will find it much easier to overlook its flaws. I was very disappointed that I didn’t love this as much as the first book. I nevertheless look forward to the final novel, Last to Rise, which is due to be published in November 2013.

Upcoming: “Coffin Hill” #1 (Vertigo)

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I’m really looking forward to this. Out of all the “bigger” comics publishers, I am really falling for a lot of Vertigo series. COFFIN HILL, which will be published on October 9th 2013, looks like yet another series that will appeal to my (rather dark, twisted) taste.

The cover is by Dave Johnson, and the variant by Gene Ha. Inaki Miranda, who handles art duties on this title, is an awesome artist, and one of my favourite recent finds – she worked on Lauren Beukes’s excellent run on Fairest, and put together some of the most striking panels and full-page spreads I’ve ever seen.

Coffin Hill is written by Caitlin Kittredge (who I have no experience reading). Kittredge is the author of the Black London series.

COFFIN HILL stars Eve Coffin, a rebellious, teenage lowlife from a high-society family with a curse that goes back to the Salem Witch trials.

Following a night of sex, drugs and witchcraft in the woods, Eve wakes up naked, covered in blood and unable to remember how she got there. One friend is missing, one is in a mental ward—and one knows that Eve is responsible.

After a stint as a Boston cop that ends in a bullet wound and unintended celebrity, Eve returns to Coffin Hill, only to discover the darkness that she unleashed ten years ago in the woods was never contained. It continues to seep through the town, cursing the soul of this sleepy Massachusetts hollow, spilling secrets and enacting its revenge.

Set against the haunted backdrop of New England, COFFIN HILL explores what people will do for power and retribution.

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Count me very much looking forward to this. This sounds great. As a bonus, here are the covers (without text, etc.) for the second and third issues:

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Two Years (ish) of DC Comics’ New 52

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Someone asked me on Twitter if I was still reading comics (they pointed out I hadn’t posted many reviews of them lately). I have been, but because I’ve been reading them in big chunks, interspersed with work reading, as well as both fiction and (future-work-related) non-fiction books, I’ve been letting the comics reviews slide a fair bit. There is another reason, of course: not all of the comics have been single storylines, or complete storylines, which makes reviewing them really tricky. Once you get to around issue #10, anything you write about the story is likely to throw out spoilers. This, I think, is maybe a weakness of reading and reviewing comics on a weekly basis – and is really why I stopped doing that almost a year ago (that and financial considerations). Regardless, my insatiable need to read All The Things With Words means I have been reading a good number of comics via ComiXology’s app on my iPad. With the exception of the frankly phenomenal Hawkeye, I do not buy any issues full-price. I just can’t afford to. So, as and when things go on sale or are discounted (either one or two months after release), I’ve been collecting issues to read in bursts.

That being said, the number of series I’ve been reading has also been steadily culled. I usually give each series a single “volume” – that is, what would appear in a collected, printed trade hardcover or paperback. It’s been a useful way of separating storylines, as well as providing a “book’s worth” to review. (Ahem, if I bothered to review them, that is…)

So which of DC’s New 52 have I kept reading? Which ones will stay? And which will have to go, and why? Below is a brief run-down (by no means exhaustive) of the titles I’ve been reading, collected by theme/larger series…

[I may add to this, over time, as I remember other titles I’ve tried, or just think of something else I’d like to add.]

GREEN LANTERN SERIES

I’m starting with this one, because I recently completed the vast “Rise of the Third Army” and “Wrath of the First Lantern” cross-title events. It was an epic undertaking, and sadly it sometimes felt like it. Not to mention being rather more expensive than I would have wished (or should have given in to). The two events, really one mega-event, had its interesting and gripping moments, but ultimately outstayed its welcome. By the time it ended, expectations were so high, that it fell a bit flat. This, I’m noticing, is a common feeling at the end of comics Events…

Overall, though, the extended family of Green Lantern titles remain interesting. Not all of them are as consistent or gripping as I would like. Green Lantern is still very good. Red Lanterns is possibly the weakest, now, after what had been a promisingly dark beginning. New Guardians is starting to fizzle a bit, too, despite my continuing interest in the wider spectrum of Lantern corps. Green Lantern Corps has some very good moments, too.

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With Geoff Johns’s run on the flagship title now over (an epic, redefining era for the character and mythos, filled with many exceptional moments), and with each title now having hit their 20th issues, I think I’m going to retire the series from my ‘pull-list’. Mostly, this is a financial decision, but it is also because the story has hit a point when I feel like I’m overdosing, and just simply want a break. The expanded 20th issue of Green Lantern was a nice wander down memory lane, and offered some intriguing hints for what is to come, but I’m just not prepared to dive back in for a little while longer. When I do return, I think only Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps will be priorities.

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BAT-FAMILY TITLES

The Batman family of titles remain my favourites, and (in my opinion) also the best-written. The flagship title, Batman, still written by the excellent Scott Snyder, continues strongly. In the wake of “Death of the Family”, we got some shorter, stand-alone issues and stories, which offered a nice breather. The latest Bat-event has now begun, though (“Year Zero”), so it’ll be interesting to see how that develops. I’ll be keeping this title on the list, and will actually be writing a review of the first three parts of “Year Zero” in the near future (#21-22 and Annual #2).

I’ve been following Detective Comics, too, but it hasn’t been firing on all cylinders for a little while. I’ll probably stick with it a little while longer, but it may have to go at some point. [As a somewhat related aside, I’m considering delving into the pre-New 52 Detective Comics stories, as some of them sound pretty great.]

BatmanDarkKnight-11-ArtGregg Hurwitz’s Scarecrow story for Batman: The Dark Knight was one of the best Batman storylines I’ve ever read. No joke. Yesterday I picked up the final part of his Mad Hatter story-arc (it’s been discounted on ComiXology), and will be reading it all in one go. I will certainly write a review for it, too. Hurwitz has done a truly fantastic job with this title. Very highly recommended indeed. It’s staying on my to-read list.

Batgirl is still going strong, with some potential closure on the question of Barbara’s serial-killer brother. Gail Simone’s keeping the quality high, and the story engaging and fresh. The artwork, too, remains strong throughout. A keeper, and I’m looking forward to picking up some of the creepier-looking recent issues in the near future.

I’m still enjoying Nightwing, as the story and character remain interesting. Post-“Death of the Family”, Dick Grayson moves to Chicago, which I think will be really great for the character – not only is it a change of pace from Gotham, but it will hopefully open up the possibility for plenty of original stories and enemies. I have every intention of continuing with the series, but I may wait longer chunks of time and binge on a complete story-arc each time I do.

Batwoman-09-ArtI haven’t been keeping up-to-date with Batwoman, despite every intention to do so. I had been waiting for printed collections before I left NYC, but chose to de-prioritize it after “Death of the Family” started, because it wasn’t connected. I enjoyed the more horror-leaning aesthetic and storylines, though, so I do hope to get caught up again. (I’ve read up to issue #9, so there is a fair bit of reading to do before I’m up-to-speed… Won’t be too soon, sadly.) It is probably the most eye-catching, artistically of all the New 52 titles. Really superb, original compositions.

Batwing is in the same position as Batwoman. It’s a series I certainly want to read more of, I just can’t afford to right now. Writing duties have changed hands (#19), and it looks like the new team (Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray) have taken the series in an interesting direction. Hopefully it won’t be too long before I get back to it.

One of my favourite series remains Red Hood & The Outlaws. If I had to say why it remains such a good read for me, I think I’d struggle to say. I like the characters – especially Jason “Red Hood” Todd – and they dynamic between them is really good. It’s a bit different, with a more sci-fi feel to it than other Batman-related titles, but perhaps it’s this difference that gives it a fresher feel? It also tied in really nicely with “Death of the Family”. I imagine this will be a keeper for some time.

I’ve also managed to read the first volume’s-worth of new title Talon. James Tynion III is doing something really interesting with this character, and I hope he becomes a permanent member of the DC stable. The first storyline was a slow-burn narrative, but with plenty of action sequences, as we follow Calvin Rose make a sort-of life for himself, with a couple of allies. And also a rogues’ gallery of his very own. It’s quite different to Batman, and I liked a lot about the series. It took me longer than it perhaps should have to adjust my expectations of story-type (I’d not been sleeping and was exhausted when I read it). Nevertheless, it is a pretty great story. The first book also has one hell of a cliff-hanger ending…

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My favourite series in the Batman family, though, has got to be Batman & Robin. Each issue is superb, but the silent issue #18 (image above), is one of the most powerful comics I’ve read. Absolutely superb, and I’ll be writing reviews of Volumes 2 and 3 in the near future. A must-read series (along with Hurwitz’s Dark Knight).

Teen Titans, led by Tim “Red Robin” Drake, has had a lot of ups and downs. Scott Lobdell’s humour can work pretty well, but overall I just don’t think I care enough about the characters to stick around any longer than I already have. The future storylines, which seem to feature six-eyed demons, also don’t appeal much.

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SUPERMAN FAMILY

Personally, I think there has been too much crossover and needed catch-up to fully follow all the storylines, which is also too much to justify financially.

Superman-11-ArtI actually like the Superman series. I seem to be one of the only people who liked the first story arc, which offered some interesting modern-era-media concerns into the story (I studied the role of the media in politics as part of my PhD, so maybe that’s why I liked it more than some others). I did get bored when the DC Powers That Be tied this series in with the daemonites storyline (which was just dull – sorry, there’s really no other way to describe it other than “just dull”, in the end). I bought the issues for Volume 3 (#13-19), not realising that they were all “H’el on Earth” issues. I have no idea if I have to read the other two Super-titles to ‘get’ the story, but it has made me hesitate (perhaps stupidly, seeing as I do own them)…

What of Superboy? Meh. I lost interest, despite enjoying Volume 1. I just never got around to reading any more of the series. Will I in the future? Perhaps. But probably not in the near future.

I finally read the first volume of Supergirl, and while there was some good stuff therein, it was mainly all-action-all-the-time, which left minimal time and space for actual story. Distracting readers with endless set-piece-battles does not a good story make. I don’t think I’ll be reading any more of the series, sadly.

Which brings us to Action Comics. I remain on the fence: Grant Morrison has finally left the series, but I’m not sure if it’s ok to just dive in with the new writers’ work. And my OCD shudders at the incompletion prospect…

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JUSTICE LEAGUE TITLES

I just finished Justice League #17-19 the other day, aiming to catch up for the latest cross-over event, “Trinity War”. (See? Told you there were a lot of them…) I must say, though, that I was thoroughly underwhelmed with these issues. The story was just weak. The artwork wasn’t great (not to mention schizophrenic, as multiple art-teams were involved). The series has not been without its strong moments, though – for example, when Batman discusses his contingency plans with Superman, and the “Throne of Atlantis” cross-over story.

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Aquaman has been a good title throughout, but due to financial constraints, I haven’t been able to keep up with it as much as I would have liked. It remains a keeper, but not an urgent one. I’ll pick up issues in chunks.

Brain Azzarello’s run on Wonder Woman has been interesting. I have a weakness for anything linked with Mythology (especially Roman, Egyptian, Norse, and as in this case Greek – all of them formed a large part of my youthful and formative reading). The story sometimes veers into the WTF-territory, which I’m not a fan of. But, at the same time, I think the interpretations of the Gods and mythical creatures and characters is really interesting. The first two volumes (“Blood” and “Guts”) were strong, despite a bit of a dip in quality in Volume 2. I’ll keep reading this for at least one more story-arc. And I really do like Cliff Chiang’s artwork.

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For some reason, I haven’t been keeping up-to-date with The Flash. I enjoyed the first volume a good deal. Perhaps it’s my innate caution when a storyline suddenly features Gorillas…? It is becoming clearer to me that I really like my comics a little less ‘out there’, unless they’re obviously meant to be totally out there – Hellboy and Justice League Dark (below), for example. I’d like to catch up with this at some point, though, as I do find the Flash to be an interesting character. Speaking of, though, I picked up a few more of the Flashpoint comics recently (again, a ComiXology sale), so I hope to get those read and reviewed at some point soon.

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THE DARK & EDGE

I really like a lot of Justice League Dark – the artwork is often pretty great, and the story has some great moments. It feels like it’s weakening a bit, but this might be because the creative team had to tread water until the “Trinity War” event could start. I hope it picks up again. I thought Lemire was going to revive it nicely, and on the strength of his first handful of issues, I bought a fair bit of his other work (including Sweet Tooth, which enjoyed an excellent 99c sale on ComiXology not so long ago). We’ll have to wait and see, I guess. I’m sticking around for “Trinity War”, but I will re-assess afterwards.

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The only other series I’ve maintained from these ‘sections’ of the New 52 is Demon Knights. I have the issues for Volume 2, but because I’ve been reading a lot of fantasy fiction, I haven’t felt an urgent need to read these. I will, though, as I like the option of reading some fantasy in my comics. Watch this space, I guess.

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Constantine-01Overall, it looks like I’m losing steam with DC’s wider New 52 line. Some series remain strong, true, but I’m not sure if reading them on an issue-by-issue basis is enough for me. Too often, the story feels incomplete, insufficient, rushed, or what have you. Maybe I just need a bit of a break from them? Who knows. I have picked up some issues from two of the newer series – Constantine and Justice League America – primarily because they are connected to the “Trinity War” event. For some reason, I didn’t feel the need to get The Phantom Stranger or Pandora

Instead of spending my few funds on more super-hero comics, I’ve been picking up some other comics. The aforementioned Sweet Tooth, as well as American Vampire, Locke & Key, and a handful of others. I’m also going to try to get back into the G.I.Joe titles, and maybe dip in to some more Dark Horse (Star Wars and The Massive), Image (Chew, Thief of Thieves) and Zenescope titles. I will also, actually, be delving into the back-catalogues of both DC and Marvel, too – I have a number of older Superman stories, for example, as well as a wealth of X-Men stuff to catch up on.

Does anyone else have any suggestions? Or opinions on the New 52 this far in? Feel free to share in the comments, below, or on Twitter or Facebook.

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“Trinity War” Artwork

Interview with CHANDLER KLANG SMITH

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Continuing my slow meander through Canadian publisher ChiZine’s stable of interesting and quirky authors, I bring you today a Q&A with Chandler Klang Smith, author of Goldenland Past Dark

Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Chandler Klang Smith?

I’m a novelist, an insatiable reader, an incurable daydreamer, a Midwestern transplant to New York City, and a graduate of Bennington College and the MFA Creative Writing program at Columbia University. I like carnivals, lost toys, forgotten Americana, and fairy tales with unhappy endings.

I thought we’d start with your fiction: Your latest novel, Goldenland Past Dark, was recently published by ChiZine. How would you introduce the novel to a potential reader?

Goldenland Past Dark tells the story of Webern Bell, a stunted hunchback, and his love affair with the circus, a show that gives him an outlet for creative expression. His bizarre childhood and struggles in young adulthood have given him tons of emotional material from the past, which he explores through haunting clown acts that come to him in dreams. But when reality confronts him – in the form of murder, heartbreak, and professional betrayal – he retreats so deeply into his fantasy world that he may never be able to find his way back out.

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What inspired you to write the novel? And where do you draw your inspiration from in general?

My process with this book was unusual: I started out writing a collection of linked short stories about Webern’s childhood. But by the time I got to his adolescence, I realized that the real action began with his travels performing on the road; everything that preceded it had just been backstory. In general, my inspiration for a particular project comes from an image or set of images that I return to obsessively until I figure out what they mean. I do a lot of freewriting to try to access where in my subconscious that fascination is coming from.

How were you introduced to genre fiction? What’s your opinion of the genre today, and where do you see your work fitting into it?

I’m extremely resistant to characterizing fiction as “genre” or “literary.” Every subject or way of writing comes with certain expectations attached, and the job of the writer is to defy and exceed those expectations constantly. At least that’s what I try to do. At the AWP Conference this year, I saw author Benjamin Percy on a panel about literary writers tackling “popular” forms, and he addressed this issue better than I ever could. He said that writers try to set up all these little fences between categories, but for him the only fence is twenty feet high, electrified and topped with razor wire, between good writing and bad. I couldn’t agree more.

How do you enjoy being a writer and working within the publishing industry?

It’s challenging working in publishing when you’re a writer yourself, because you’re constantly confronted with the sobering realities of the marketplace. So much of the industry is about rejection: agents reject potential clients, editors reject agent’s submissions, customers and critics reject published novels. It has been helpful, though, because I’m now aware of just how important it is to grab and hold a reader’s attention from page one on.

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When did you realize you wanted to be an author, and what was your first foray into writing? Do you still look back on it fondly?

I think I first realized I wanted to be a writer in sixth grade; before that I’d wanted to be a Muppeteer. Anyway, around that time, I embarked on my first major project, a very pretentious road novel about three middle schoolers running away from home in a stolen car and having a lot of long philosophical conversations on the way. I’d probably cringe if I read it now, but I suppose it was a good sign that I was so ambitious, despite having no idea what I was doing. Some things never change, I guess…

What other projects are you working on, and what do you have currently in the pipeline?

Right now, I’m working on my second novel, about a futuristic parallel universe version of New York City that’s under attack by fire breathing dragons. You can read a short excerpt from it here.

That sounds awesome…

What are you reading at the moment (fiction, non-fiction)?

White Noise by Don DeLillo.

What’s something readers might be surprised to learn about you?

Despite my interest in stage magic and clowning, I’m just about the clumsiest person on earth. I can’t even juggle.

What are you most looking forward to in the next twelve months?

I’m hoping to finish that aforementioned second novel. Keep your fingers crossed for me, as I’m a pretty slow writer!

An Interview with KAREN HEULER

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Last week I posted an excerpt from Karen Heuler’s much-talked-about and anticipated The Inner City anthology. Naturally, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to interview Karen as well, and ask her about the book, inspirations and also an old job with strange, alphabetical hiring practices…

Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Karen Heuler?

I’ve published over 60 stories in literary and speculative journals and anthologies. My first four books were published with university presses.

Your latest story collection, The Inner City, was recently published by ChiZine. Have you always written darker fiction?

I’ve been writing odd fiction for dozens of years. My first collection was published in 1995, and the New York Times review called it “haunting and quirky.” I thought then that I was firmly in the literary world and occasionally writing magic realism. I managed to get a lot of stories published in literary journals and won an award and was short-listed for others. But some of my favorite stories never found a home. I used to read science fiction and fantasy when I was in my twenties, but for some reason moved into mysteries after that (still mainlining literary fiction, though).

Sometime in the late ’90s or early aughts, I started looking more closely at people like Kelly Link and a lot of writers who were crossing back and forth between literary and genre – Lethem, Saunders, Bender, et al. I returned to speculative fiction in terms of trying to catch up on what I’d missed, and also because it became a world where the stories I loved the most might find a home. I was completely surprised when it turned out that I was writing dark fiction of any kind. And horror. Not me! I frighten easily. I creep out easily. But I do, indeed, write dark. I write dark and I scare easily. Luckily, ChiZine created a glow-in-the-dark fish for me so I would feel safer (note: see cover).

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What inspired you to write the stories? And where do you draw your inspiration from in general?

What I think about most is how odd it is that we rarely experience “normal.” We have a standard in our heads of what our lives will be – or at the very least, should be – and it’s true, some people do have a great childhood, school popularity, a loving marriage, brilliant children, and a successful career. But it’s more common to experience failed love, menacing diseases, lack of recognition, and failed expectations. We live in a world shocked by earthquakes, falling meteors, cancer, flesh-eating diseases and a host of unexpected and unpredictable whims of fate. I work with this jarring alternate reality and to a certain extent, find an explanation for it. Secret city governments playing with you; scientists experimenting around you; people grabbing your hair and then your job – when you reveal the engine behind life’s arbitrariness, it all makes sense. And I, for one, want it to make sense.

How do you enjoy being a writer and working within the publishing industry? Do you have any specific working, writing, researching practices?

HeulerKaren-AuthorPicSome of my earliest jobs were as an editorial assistant – the first was at Dell Crosswords, where the person in charge had a policy of only hiring women whose names began with C or K.

I later worked as an editor at a very small art publisher whose paychecks bounced. Whenever we got paid, we all raced to the bank to try to get there before the account was emptied out.

This has of course spilled over to my own habits. I try to send my stories out as soon as I can, so they can get to magazine editors before other stories do. I tell my students, however, to revise up to 10 times before sending out their stories. And never to send to magazines with editors whose names begin with C or K.

Aside from that, I pretty much write when I can, when I have something to write. I am not much good at writing to schedule; I usually end up just throwing things out when I try to force writing. And I believe very firmly that a lot of the preparation for writing is already happening in the back of the brain as long as you keep it stimulated with books, movies, and people. It’s all process.

When did you realize you wanted to be an author, and what was your first foray into writing? Do you still look back on it fondly?

I wrote a “book” when I was 11. I lost it a long time ago, gratefully. I then wrote poetry and what would now be called flash fiction when I was in my teens. Then a few stories and my first novel in my twenties. That and the next two novels were more exercises than successes. I think your early work is basically testing out your talent, trying to locate the area(s) where your writing works best.

What are you reading at the moment (fiction, non-fiction)?

Schulman-ThreeWeeksInDecemberI’m re-reading Three Weeks in December by Audrey Schulman, reading James Tiptree’s stories, and trying to read a lot of stories in online magazines like Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, and Daily Science Fiction. And I’m going through a huge backlog of New Yorker issues.

What’s something readers might be surprised to learn about you?

A native guide abruptly caught and then handed me a caiman while we were in a boat on the Amazon river. I handed it right back.

What are you most looking forward to in the next twelve months?

I’d love to finish a linked-story collection that’s been almost finished for the past six or seven years. I’ve got stories I’ve started that need to get finished. I have a novel coming out next January from Permuted Press [Glorious Plague]. But in the meantime, I’m enjoying life with The Inner City and ChiZine. Very much.