I have survived another HPLFF. Portland makes my withered heart unshrivel just a little, with its goth nights and cocktail bars and witch houses and trees that go all the way up. I won’t bother with a con report, but I will leave you with something like a book review.
I picked up Orrin Grey’s Painted Monsters & Other Strange Beasts at HPLFF, and started reading on Monday, while I waited for my delayed* flight out of PDX. I read it on the plane to Vegas, held it in my hand as we hustled through McCarran to lunge onto our connecting flight, and finished it shortly after takeoff. I then handed it to my partner, and glanced over his shoulder while he read the first four stories.
All the stories are deft and cinematic, sometimes clever or funny, sometimes elegiac, sometimes pleasantly shivery. “Walpurgisnacht” and “The Red Church” are where the real creeping chill kicks in for me. Eerie, unsettling, dreamlike, disorienting: They remind me of my favorite work by Caitlin Kiernan, Gemma Files, and Elizabeth Hand, other writers who excel at describing art to disturbing effect. (I am extremely jealous of this ability, especially after writing Dreams.) My other favorites are “Night’s Foul Bird” and the titular “Painted Monsters.”
Eight tentacles up. Will read again.
* Delayed, they claimed, because of mysterious “thunderstorms” over Las Vegas. I assume this has something to do with the ongoing wizard/water wars between LA and Vegas, but that’s beside the point.
I will be attending the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival & Cthulhucon in Portland in less than two weeks. (Yikes!) I don’t know my panel schedule yet, but I’ll definitely be at the Cthulhu Prayer Breakfast on Sunday morning.
Badass, Babe, or None of the Above: How is Gender Evolving (or Not) in SF Literature? Fri 10:00 PM-11:00 PM Ballroom D Cherry, Downum*, Reed, Wright How have female characters been written in SF/F literature historically? Have these roles changed, and are new tropes emerging?
Saturday, July 25
The Work and Influence of H. P. Lovecraft Sat 1:00 PM-2:00 PM Ballroom D de Orive, Downum, Person, Spencer, Stanton, Webb* How has this master of the macabre impacted the field?
12:00 PM G The Write/Read Balance. Elizabeth Bear, Amanda Downum, Betsy Mitchell, Charles Oberndorf (leader), Cecilia Tan. Young writers are often told to read, read, read, but every hour spent reading is an hour not spent writing. Many novelists make the conscious choice to write (and make their deadlines) instead of reading. But reading other works within and outside the genre can be tremendously valuable for a writer, whether as a pleasant break from creating or as a source of ideas, inspiration, and literary conversation. Our panel of varied creators discuss how consumption of literature interfaces with their creative processes, and how to strike the proper balance of time and attention to reading and writing.
2:00 PM ENV Reading:
4:00 PM E Autographs. Elizabeth Bear, Amanda Downum.
12:00 PM F BTAIQ: Writing the “Lowercase Letters”. Kythryne Aisling, Samuel Delany, Amanda Downum, Sioban Krzywicki (leader), Rachel Steiger-Meister. A lot of attention is paid to the G and L of QUILTBAG or LGBT, it’s time we gave the rest of the rainbow some time in the spotlight. We’ll discuss good and bad examples of bisexual, transgender and agender, asexual and aromantic, intersex, queer, and questioning characters in speculative fiction, as well as getting into the problematic tropes that tend to be attached to these characters, such as bisexual people being “greedy” or “confused,” or the “tragic trans” ending. And we’ll look at how authors can include these characters in ways that are supportive, respectful, and welcoming of readers.
When not otherwise scheduled, there is a reasonable chance you’ll find me in the bar.
I have joined the ranks of the dietarily restricted. I’m currently on the third week of FODMAP avoidance. This still makes me weep in despair when I walk through the produce section, but does have noticeable benefits. I choose to look at it as a challenge when it comes to cooking, instead of a crippling limitation.
Last night I experimented with asafoetida (hing) for the first time, since garlic and onions are right out. The result was some sort of Szechuan orange chicken.
I’ve started a Patreon campaign. My current writing goal is to finish a draft of The Poison Court by the end of the year. If you haven’t heard me talking about it elsewhere, The Poison Court is the first of what I hope will be several novels starring Savedra Severos, whom some of you may remember from The Bone Palace.
Savedra Severos is no stranger to intrigue. Mistress to the King of Selafai and daughter of a rival noble house, she navigates the treacheries of court with every breath. She never wanted to become a spymaster, but to protect the people she loves—not to mention herself—she must take on the role.
On the eve of delicate peace talks in the capital, the court mage is found murdered. When Savedra investigates, she discovers that he has sold the king’s secrets—and her own—to a foreign government. Her presence will become a liability if those powers act on the knowledge. But if she flees, she leaves her lover prey to traitors in his own court, as well as to enemy agents who seek to destabilize the governments of three nations.
The danger is not only political: their enemies have brought bloodthirsty spirits into the palace. Once a tool of justice, now they seek only retribution. And in a court of schemes and guilty secrets, no one is safe from their venomous touch.
Thanks to everyone who contributed to my IndieGoGo fundraiser last year, Still So Strange Studios is now live. This will be home to my jewelry, and any other weird art projects I embark on. I’m still working the kinks out of shipping, but I’ll have more listings available soon.