So, last week I decided to you know, cut right the heck back on social networks
This has been coming a while, but I thought it might be worth blogging about
When I’m on the net, I see…stuff. A lot of stuff I don’t see (maybe I am blind) IRL. People basically, and in the words of my daughter, being butts to everyone else. Because they can
Now, I try usually and attempt to see the other point of view (this is not always possible and see the whole “tolerance will die because of tolerance” debate – I do not tolerate intolerance, I am bigoted against bigots, so sue me) I am a writer, and to write is to get inside someone else’s head — you HAVE to have empathy.
But after a while that empathy. that – sometimes sarcastic or caustic, I’m British that is often how we do it – tolerance, that empathy, it gets hard. It’s not just what I see — it’s stuff going on IRL etc. For 6 months, the only way we were paying bills was for me to work a job that required ALL THE HOURS. I mean that. ALL THE DAMN HOURS. And I wrote a book too, because I had a deadline (which I missed by a couple of weeks, and they were cool about it)
And add to that, children ill and stuff blowing up and my bipolar said, hey, you know I haven’t visited in a while and…
And sometimes, just sometimes, you see so much hate, and (try to)act against that hate so much, and everything else going on and…you snap. Or I do. Sometimes that snapping is…not nice
Those are the days I do not like the person social media *can* – doesn’t always, and hey the fault is mine — turn me into. I don’t like what it makes me, or *reveals* in me anyway. I don’t want to be that person.
So much shit is going down, and sometimes I have to take a step back. Because I am burnt out on cynicism, on other people’s hate, on people’s hate for me, or those like me. Notwithstanding the people I have met online and consider friends, and they are many.
Because when I live in real life…it’s peaceful. There are no trolls. Hate, if it’s there, is muted and spoken in whispers (so I can ignore it), not shouted in my face
It’s nice. It’s real.
So, a break from the hate, from the vitriol, the sheer acidness.
I may well be back. When I can’t keep my trap shut any more. When I have recharged the empathy batteries. Because right now they are more than dry.
The end of the Rojan Dizon series anyway. The last book, Last to Rise, is released today.
Some people have said some nice things about it.
“a profoundly moving conclusion that is both unexpected and entirely satisfying” – Publishers Weekly
“proceed with all haste to this book and devour it immediately. It’s powerfully written, with a beautifully realized dystopian world and some thoroughly engaging characters” – Booklist
“Are you sure you wrote this? Because it’s quite good.” The Old Man
This series has been an utter blast to write. I’ve have a lot of fun getting into the head of someone so unlike me, and wallowing in snark. But this particular story is at an end, so I shall wave it off with a wistful hanky and misty eyes.
No more salivating over bacon, no more dislocating thumbs or snarling at life in general. No more Rojan or Mahala, city of hope and despair. For now….
Volume 1 available now.
As the blurb says:
“Story Behind the Book : Volume 1″ collects nearly 40 non-fiction essays on writing and editing speculative fiction written by some of the most exciting authors and editors. Essays cover everything from getting an initial creative burst, worldbuilding, tackling writer’s block, to the final process of publication. Some of the essays are personal, some rather technical but all of them, without an exception, provide an unique and fascinating insight into the mind of an author.
Contributors include Ian Whates, Michael Logan, Mathieu Blais and Joel Casseus, Mark T. Barnes, Lisa Jensen, Lee Battersby, L. E. Modesitt Jr., Keith Brooke, Joanne Anderton, Jo Walton, F.R. Tallis, Ian R. MacLeod, Guy Haley, Gavin Smith, Francis Knight, Eric Brown, Clifford Beal, Susan Palwick, Rhiannon Held, Ben Jeapes, Nina Allan, Mike Shevdon, Mur Lafferty, Norman Lock, Seth Patrick, Gemma Malley, Freda Warrington, Freya Robertson and more.
A snip at £1.93/$3.09, and all proceeds go to https://www.epilepsy.org.uk/
So, I hope you’re all coming to Nine Worlds, because it looks fantastic
If you are, here’s where you can find me
Saturday afternoon, I’ll be critting in the T Party writers workshop
5pm I’ll be chatting about Life After Westeros (Renaissance, George I)
10.15 I’ll be at the New Voices slam (Renaissance, New Room)
Sunday at 3:15, I’ll be on the My First Time (Debut Novelists) panel (Renaissance, George I)
I’ll also be signing at Forbidden Planet (prelim schedule says 5pm on Sunday)
Other than that, you probably have quite a high chance of finding me in a darkened bar talking a load of old codswallop.
See you there!
So after reading this, which boggles my tiny little mind, and in particular response to the pathetic little trolls who wrote the emails at the end (note, may be triggery), here I’m going to write a list of women SFF writers I have read and loved. It won’t be comprehensive, because I’m pretty damned cross about now, so it’s just the ones I can think of off the top of my head. I know there’s plenty more I haven’t got to yet as well (I really must read that Laura Lam for instance), and I’m pretty sure I’ve neglected a few I really should have remembered.
So, in addition to the previously mentioned women who write bloody good SFF, in no particular order I give you:
Juliet E McKenna
Aliette De Bodard
Robin Hobb/Megan Lindholm
Diana Wynn Jones
If I actually had a trawl through the towering pile that is my bookshelves, I could easily double that.
Yes, women can write good SFF and it’s ridiculous to suggest that writing a damn good speculative fiction depends on your plumbing. So ridiculous I thought it didn’t need to be said, but obviously I was wrong.
Go on, go and try a new female SFF writer today!
ETA: If you want a little help, Worlds Without End has a reading challenge re female SFF writers.
To be honest I probably don’t need to say any more than that, do I? But I will.
Ursula Le Guin is one of the very rare writers that does both of two important things for me — she makes me feel, and she makes me think. Her characters are so alive to me, I care what happens to them, a lot. I get caught up in their highs and lows, in their dangers and comfort moments and inner revelations. I’m not ashamed to say I’ve been known to sniffle once or twice. But her greatest asset is to make me think, in a highly accessible way. Not to put too fine a point on it, I always come away from her stories a different person, and I think that’s what many, many authors (if not all) want to do — change someone’s life.
You should go read some, right now. Go on, shoo!
Yup, giving away 3 signed copies of Before the Fall (and you’ll get a copy of Fade to Black if you don’t already have it)
So, still going old school for this post, but how can we talk about women to read in SFF without Lois McMaster Bujold? I was/am a latecomer to her books — it was only when the Curse of Chalion was recommended to me on a writer’s forum that I’d even *heard* of it. She’s not usually stocked in my local bookshop (and why that is, when she’s such a prominent SFF author, along with other award winning female SFF authors, is a post for another time…). I couldn’t even order in the sequel, but had to borrow it. And this sequel won a Hugo, a Nebula and a Locus award for crying out loud!
Anyway…I was late getting to her. But once I started…well, once I started I could not stop. I’ve still got about a bajillion books of hers to read, but I’ve loved every one so far. Curse of Chalion is in my ‘top five books of any genre, all time’ list. Threads are woven together with subtle expertise, the world-building is fantastic, the description flowing and not overblown, the MC is intelligent, not your typical hero, but so believable and likeable…I love that book so hard, it gives me that I Am A Talentless Hack feeling.
Not just a one off either — every book I read of hers evokes such things in me I cannot describe. I haven’t even started on her most famous series, the Vorkosigan saga, yet. At least partly because I know that’ll be it for quite some time, reading wise.
In conclusion — read her books. Now.
So, inspired by the #womentoread hashtag, whereby people are listing great female SFF authors (in response to that hypothetical, but sadly all too real ‘women don’t write proper SFF’ *eyeroll*) I thought I’d do a series of blog posts about said female authors. I’m going to start with a few ‘old school’ authors before I dive into the latest crop, and especially with the woman who made me want to write – CJ Cherryh
Once upon a time, many years ago, I encountered a book called The Chronicles of Morgaine. And lo, I fell in love with it, very hard indeed. I had no idea until years later what gender the author was, and I didn’t care. I DID care that here was a fantastic story, written in a style I’d not seen before (in SFF anyway) but which utterly absorbed me. The third POV was nailbitingly close, the worlds subtly drawn but viscerally real, as real to me as this one even when they were sometimes uncomfortable, (one of) the main protagonist, Morgaine, was tantalisingly mysterious because we only got to see her through the POV Vanye’s eyes. Other subtleties were there too, ones that again I’d not seen before, or not to that extent (okay, I was young, but I’d read a heck of a lot — I was and am always reading something) — namely Vanye’s duality, that is, that he thought of himself as a coward and a failure due to his upbringing, but it was obvious to me as a reader that he was, in fact, steadfastly loyal and recklessly brave. The treatment of ‘magic’ too; a good example of Clarke’s Law, that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Morgaine’s tools are clearly technological, but Vanye sees them as magic (and is afraid of the witchery of them). And, ofc, it was fantasy, but it was SF too.
But back then, when I were a girl, I didn’t know about Clarke’s Laws, or unreliable(ish, kinda, not really but…) narrators or show, don’t tell, or even that women in SFF were advised to change/rearrange their name for publication (Cherryh was advised to add the ‘h’ to her name to avoid sounding like a romance author…., and to use her initials to disguise the fact she was female). All I knew was this was one heck of a story written in a way that engaged my emotions — all of them. I ran out and bought half a ton of other books by Cherryh. They didn’t all grab me to the same extent (though I reserve Merchanter’s Luck as one of my all time favourite reads), but they did always interest me, and they certainly made me think about people, and how they work.
And when, years later, I decided to give this writing lark a try, it was Morgaine and the other books that came to mind. How did she do this and that? How can I do that?
I wish I could go back and read them for the first time again. But, because this writing malarky changes how you read, whether you will it or no, I find myself reluctant to go back and reread Morgaine. What if I don’t love it as much? Instead, I remember it, so distinctly I can remember where I was sitting, the time of day, what the weather was like, each time I sat down to read, for the week it took me to read it. I remember it because it instilled in me a love for characters, and an ambition to realise my characters just as well (a feat I fear I will never manage).
In short, CJ Cherryh inspired me to write, and if I was going to write, do it well.