I’ve got two new stories out.

Spinning the Thread is out in the Autumn 2014 issue of Kaleidotrope.  It’s a sort of historical horror dark fantasy gangster, uh, romance?

The second time I woke up this morning, the shotgun was gone from between my teeth.

Bridie’s fingers were on my cheek. She was behind me, and my eyes were still closed, but there was no mistaking those hands, soft from the spinning and warm with the winter smell of the wool. 

“Shhhh,” she said. “You just sit there, now, Billy Beg, and don’t be moving.”

And my fantasy novelette The Leaves Upon Her Falling Light is in early release from Beneath Ceaseless Skies.  You can buy the issue for just US$0.99 from Weightless Books or for the Kindle.

A little before dawn I make five little cages of white bone tied with ribbon and strewn with marjoram and rue and with the setting of the moon a bird of my remembrance flies in the window to land on the edge of my hand. She’s a wren, frail and faded as she has come the furthest.

“Hey, Jenny Jenny,” I sing to her, and feed her crumbs soaked in a little blood and honey and then a plump green spider I have been keeping in the windowframe.


PodCastle’s audio version of my story The Telling is online!  It’s free to listen, but please consider donating a buck or two; the Escape Pod team pays its authors and their work is fantastic.


Thanks to Cian MacMahon for a great performance, and to Dave Thompson, Anna Schwind, Ann Leckie, and everyone at Escape Artists!

I’m delighted to report two new sales.   My fantasy novelette The Leaves Upon Her Falling Light is going to Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and my SF novelette Twelve and Tag is going to Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine.

Also, my World Fantasy Award-winning story The Telling will be adapted to audio by the talented folks at Pod Castle.  Their sister podcast Escape Pod did a fantastic version of my story Freia in the Sunlight, and from what I’ve heard so far, they are going to do wonders with The Telling.

I am also excited that The Telling will be appearing in the upcoming collection The Best of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Year Five.  This will be the first time the story has been collected for an anthology, and will be available in all the standard e-book formats.

And my horror/dark fantasy/gangster story Spinning the Thread should be coming out soon from Kaleidotrope.

Release dates for all of the above are yet to be determined: watch this space!

My first horror story Smartmob is out at Schlock Magazine, along with a story by the fantastic Nathan Ballingrud and some more great looking stuff.  Schlock previously did an interview with me, my first interview, in fact!  They’ve just overhauled their web design, and it’s a beautiful site, full of great stories!

My story Two Things About Thrand Zandy’s TechnoThèque is out now in The Journal of Unlikely Cryptography, with original art by Dermot Power!

Here’s an excerpt from an interview that will be appearing at the Journal soon:

I wrote the first draft of Two Things About Thrand Zandy’s TechoThèque in the final sixth week of the 2010 Clarion Writers’ Workshop.  Though, overall, Clarion was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, this story was a struggle.

My fifth week story had not gone over well, and so I was determined to nail my sixth and final draft.  I was determined all that week…to no avail:  by the end of the week, with a Sunday night deadline, I had no ideas and no words.  So Saturday morning I took refuge in a local cafe with Kai Ashante Wilson and just started frantically dumping whatever came to mind onto the page.  I worked pretty much continuously right up to and a little past the deadline the next day: thanks goodness Kai reminded me to occasionally eat and drink.

I usually do most of my real writing in revision, but this one went raw into the Clarion grinder… and came through it pretty much unscathed, and with some encouraging comments.  I’ve done a fair amount of revision since, for the most part in understanding Halo and clarifying her voice.  The comments of my Clarion-mates have been invaluable during that process, particularly in helping me avoid the pitfalls of my writing a female character.  But at a plot and paragraph level, this is pretty much what I wrote that weekend.

Before the Nebula Awards last year Sheila Williams, editor-in-chief of Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, and brilliant fantasy writer Lisa Goldstein visited me to take a tour of Skywalker Ranch and ILM.  Here’s Sheila’s Asimov’s editorial on that visit, and Lisa’s account.  What a wonderful day that was, ending with a reading by two of my favorite authors, Connie Willis and Gene Wolfe!

Here’s my first interview as a writer, courtesy of the excellent, intriguing Schlock Magazine:

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I’m writing this from my friend Dermot Power’s house in London, where I am recovering from a wonderful, if exhausting, weekend at the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton.  The details of the WFC are a bit fuzzy now, what with jet lag, rivers of beer and wine, a bit of a sniffle, and many hundreds of extraordinary conversations with extraordinary people.  But apparently, at some point I won the World Fantasy Award for best short story for my story “The Telling”.  I’d assume that I had dreamed the whole thing, but I’ve been presented with proof, and the award itself seems real enough.  Frighteningly so!


I’ll write more about the WFC weekend and the amazing folks I met soon.  For now, many thanks to Scott Andrews and Beneath Ceaseless Skies for taking a risk on the story, and to Jenn Hsyu, Karin Tidbeck, Ann & Jeff VanderMeer, Olivia Do, Kai Ashante Wilson, Leah Thomas, Kali Wallace, Tom Underberg, Dallas Taylor, John Chu, and everyone else who read and commented on early drafts of the story!


Something I do with everything I write: switch the sex of the major characters. Not all at once: one at a time. How does the switch affect my sense of the character’s motivations? How about the relationships: is that other character still a lover, or is it now a friendship, or something else altogether?

And recently, I’ve tried temporarily switching the economic and social status of my characters as well. Would they still chase the bad guy down the sidewalk if they were likely to be shot by the first cop they encountered because of how they dress? Is their poverty a genuine part of their character, or is it just lazy motivation for the plot or an easy play for sympathy?

The goal here is not to create a statement about gender or status—that requires much more effort—but rather to shake loose my assumptions and received ideas & language.  For me, anyway, the biggest obstacles to writing something really good is unstudied/implicit assumptions and received thinking & language, all of which are impediments to the precision of observation and language necessary for great fiction.

Dickens, at his best, writes his socially and economically challenged characters with dignity but a lack of any romanticism. They suffer, and that suffering doesn’t make them more noble or sympathetic than the aristocratic characters. Nor does it make them less so. Bleak House, for example, is a fascinating study of characters in/versus status.

There are many writers who set out to challenge the readers’ preconceptions of gender and status. But I’m talking about doing this temporarily on any story—even the giddiest action adventure—to challenge the writer’s preconceptions. Afterward, you’ll probably (but not necessarily) switch the characters’ sex back, but hopefully you’ll have caught those places where you were making lazy and uninteresting assumptions. Some visual artists will flip their work (or look at it in a mirror) or kill the color to shake up their viewpoint and catch problems they were overlooking.  This is a writing equivalent.

It’s tricky in genre fiction, which is usually read in the context of its genre, and relies on/riffs off of tropes to avoid having to reinvent the entire universe each time. But for the most part, assumptions about gender and social/economic status are independent of these standards of setting.


I did the animation and music for this trailer for Jeff VanderMeer’s remarkable writing guide “Wonderbook“, featuring the illustrations of Jeremy Zerfoss.  I also have some illustrations in the book itself, based on this Myster Odd video.

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