Every year Lethe Press does a roundup of the Best Lesbian Fiction of the year, called Heiresses of Russ. This year my F&SF story ‘A House of her Own’ is in it, in an awesome TOC full of famous writers, edited by Alyx Dellamonica.
Here’s the line-up:
Grandmother ley-neylit’s Cloth of Winds by Rose Lemberg
The Occidental Bride by Benjanun Sriduangkaew
The Devil Comes to the Midnight Café by A.C. Wise
And We Were Left Darkling by Sarah Pinsker
A House of Her Own by Bo Balder
Love in the Time of Markov Processes by Megan Arkenberg
Where Monsters Dance by Merc Rustad
Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers by Alyssa Wong
Fabulous Beasts by Priya Sharma
The Wollart Nymphs by Melissa Scott
The New Mother by Eugene Fischer
Eldritch Brown Houses by Claire Humphrey
The Tip of the Tongue by Felicia Davin
Where Can a Broken Glass Mend? by Sonya Taaffe
A Residence for Friendless Ladies by Alice Sola Kim
The Deepwater Bride by Tamsyn Muir
Doubt the Sun by Faith Mudge
A week after acceptance, my story “Follow the White Line” is up at Clarkesworld! I can’t quite believe it. It’s gone so fast. Normally you wait weeks and more usually months for an acceptance ( it was 5 days), then wait more months for the story to appear ( it was a week.)
A great line-up of authors, lots of Codex colleagues as well…
Finally my sf book The Wan is published.
Quote from Jeff Vandermeer, author of the Southern Reach trilogy:”Inventive and energetic, with a truly unique SF premise. A promising debut from one of my favorite publishers.”
Quote from Ferret Steinmetz, author of Flex: “A near-perfect blending of fantasy and sf, The Wan takes a crazy biological idea and pushes it to its limit.”
Quote from Sylvia Volk, author of City and Dragon: “”Bo Balder’s The Wan is bizarre and gritty sf, funny when you least expect it, with no-holds-barred weirdness at every turn of the plot. The heroine Frog will win hearts. She’s the lowest of the low – abused, attacked, abandoned – but she never gives up, and her journey from slavery to empowerment takes place against the backdrop of nothing less than an apocalypse …”
Read my time travel story ” The MEaning that You Choose” in Crossed Genres November 2015.
– Tell us a bit about “A House of Her Own.”
It’s set on a human colony world which has been cut off from Earth for a long time. Humans have gotten into a symbiotic relationship with local flora/fauna, the hice. They’ve replaced the hice’s old commensal species. When tax collectors from Earth return to reclaim the old colony, they don’t know how to deal with this relationship; they can’t even see it.
– What was the inspiration for this story, or what prompted you to write it?
As a teenager when I was taught English in school, I’d wonder at the lack of regularity in plurals and always thought house should be conjugated like mouse. One day, decades later, that notion popped up again in my head and the hice grew from there pretty quickly.
I’m always fascinated at humanity relating to the other, to creatures that have goals and worldviews completely unlike their own.
– Was “A House of Her Own” personal to you in any way? If so, how?
I think a story is always personal. But specifically, I was an odd, fierce little girl. I dressed as a boy whenever I could to escape the strictures of being a girl in those days. I had a lot of freedom, I could roam our village without any supervision all day long, climbing trees, making fires, fighting. That gave me independence and also the idea that adults were idiots. I thought I knew everything.
My protagonist is a girl who doesn’t have to deal with notions about girlhood, but she’s as fierce and stubborn as I was.
At the same I’m writing this as an adult, my readers are adult, so that gives this story more layers, because adults see the gray instead of the black and white and look ahead for the inevitable consequences.
– What would you want a reader to take away from this story?
Primarily, I hope they’ll just enjoy it. And for those readers who want more, maybe remember their own childhood state of mind and how different they view things now. And there’s the clash of cultures, of colonization, and how easy it is to think from the preconceptions of your own culture.
“A House of Her Own” appears in the September/October 2015 issue of F&SF. You can buy that issue here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc1509.htm
And, you can subscribe to F&SF here, and never miss another great issue: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/subscribe.htm
CONTRARY to the title of this anthology, working with such a talented cast of writers is an opportunity that usually comes once in a lifetime. From best-selling to greenhorn, independent or traditionally-published, the authors in this anthology span all ranges in addition to spanning the globe—from England to Australia and all over the United States. I’ve had the privilege of getting to know each and every one of them, and they have become a part of my extended family. I’ve even caught a glimpse of a secret side of them that only another writer…editor…is privy to witness through their words.
Through this series of posts, I plan on introducing you to my new family through a mini-interview of each. You may not get a chance to see their secret side, but you’ll get a sneak-peek into their minds, their passions and inspirations, and what made them the writers they are today.
..The Mini Interview..
1. At what age did you start writing?
As soon as I could—6 or 7?
2. Which book introduced you to Speculative Fiction?
3. Do you have an all-time favorite book? What about it makes it your favorite?
The Crown of Stars by Kate Elliott. Not only does it depict a greatly realistic, detailed early Middle Ages, it has a kickass heroine, a wide scope, mythic creatures, love, wars, magic…
I can keep rereading it, it’s too complex to keep in your head so there’s never any boredom.
4. Which author and/or book inspired you to start writing?
Jack Vance. I just loved his ironic details and grotesque imagination. I wanted to be just like him…all my teenage work is one big Vance pastiche.
5. What would you say is the most important lesson all writers should learn?
You have to find a way to show yourself through your words.
6. Of the entire publishing process, which would you say is the most difficult aspect to endure?
The waiting. Months, sometimes even years, to get an answer from a publisher or a magazine.
7. From where did the inspiration for your submission arise?
The Yde Girl was an actual bog corpse found in my country.
8. If applicable, did you have a favorite character (to write) from your story? If so, what sets them apart from the others?
My protagonist, because she tries so hard to fit in and to be loyal, and she has to make a choice to leave her family.
9. On what projects are you currently working?
A near-future, optimistic sf novel/series of shorts. I took up the challenge to write utopian instead of dystopian for a change….
..About the Author..
Bo is a freelance writer who lives and works in the ancient Dutch city of Utrecht, close to Amsterdam. When she isn’t writing, you can find her madly designing knitwear, painting, or reading anything and everything from Kate Elliott to Iain M. Banks or Jared Diamond.
Her fiction has appeared in Penumbra, Electric Spec and quite a few anthologies. Her sf novel, The Wan, will be published in 2015 by Pink Narcissus Press.
..Connect with the Author..
Fairytales don’t always happen once upon a time. Fables don’t always have a happy ending. Sometimes the stories we love are too dark for nightmares. What if waking Sleeping Beauty was the worse thing the Prince could have done? What if Rapunzel wasn’t in that tower for her own protection—but for everyone else’s?
Assembled by The Bearded Scribe Press, Twice Upon A Time combines classics and modern lore in peculiar and spectacular ways. From Rapunzel to Rumpelstiltskin, this unique collection showcases childhood favorites unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
Both traditionally-published and independent authors will take you on a whirlwind ride through fairytale and folklore, myth and majick. Cherished stories are revisited and remastered into newly-treasured tales of hope and heartache, of adversity and adventure.
This collection features 43 short stories ranging in length from 2K-12K words from the following cast of talented writers:
Bo Balder, AJ Bauers, Carina Bissett, Rose Blackthorn, S.M. Blooding, Rick Chiantaretto, Richard Chizmar, Liz DeJesus, Court Ellyn, S.Q. Eries, Steven Anthony George, Dale W. Glaser, Jax Goss, K.R. Green, Kelly Hale, Tonia Marie Harris, Brian T. Hodges, Tarran Jones, Jason Kimble, Shari L. Klase, Alethea Kontis, Hannah Lesniak, Wayne Ligon, RS McCoy, Joshua Allen Mercier, Robert D. Moores, Diana Murdock, Nick Nafpliotis, Elizabeth J. Norton, Bobbie Palmer, William Petersen, Rebekah Phillips, Asa Powers, Joe Powers, Brian Rathbone, Julianne Snow, Tracy Arthur Soldan, C.L. Stegall, Brian W. Taylor, Kenechi Udogu, Onser von Fullon, Deborah Walker, Angela Wallace, and Cynthia Ward.
Excerpt from Fire & Ash by Joshua Allen Mercier, a dark fantasy retelling of Little Red Riding Hood:
THE cold, autumn gusts ripped across Salem’s port, stirring the angry waters, stirring the angry spectators gathered before the gallows—gallows which had not, until this day, been used since the Trials several years back. Men, women, children—all bore hateful eyes and twisted faces. All bore a deep-seeded fear of the woman before them; they watched and seethed, anger building like fire fed by the winds, waiting for answers, for closure, for justice—for the devil’s death.
Constance Archer stared at the sea of faces; she despised all of them, save two—two faces that weren’t supposed to be there. Her daughters, Rhiannon and Rowan, hid in the small grove of trees, but she could still see their watery, green eyes piercing through the shadows, their stares stabbing their fear and pain and confusion into her. They weren’t supposed to see her like this. With the gag still tightly secured about her mouth, however, her muffled pleas for them to leave went unheard.
Where was their grandmother?
Constance’s fiery locks were drenched with tears. Her heart ached. For them, for herself, for her husband, Jacob. She shouldn’t have let the rage overtake her; she knew that now, now that it was too late.
“For the crimes of witchcraft, how do you plea?”
Even though the thick rope around her neck made it difficult to escape it—to forget—the reverend’s voice jolted her back to reality.
“Not guilty,” Constance replied through the gag, unsure if her plea was understood.
“Executioner, please remove the gag from the accused.”
The reverend’s statement was cold. They had known each other since they were children, but he was but a stranger now as he stood before her. He was once so compassionate, so caring—what had changed?
The executioner approached Constance with apprehension; she soon understood why. Despite the black hood covering his face, his scent—sweet, woody, musky, like freshly-sawn wood mixed with perfume and sweat—immediately revealed his identity: William Black. He removed the gag with haste and stepped across the gallows with a speed she hadn’t witnessed him have in years.
How fitting that the town adulterer would be the one to hang her. She wondered who the woman had been, the one whose scent lingered on his clothing and skin. Surely it wasn’t his wife, Catherine.
It couldn’t be.
She had killed her, in a way, the memory of the act flooding back to her nearly causing her to faint. Seems Catherine and her husband didn’t understand the meaning of marriage; then again, neither did Jacob (apparently). Catching him with Catherine was the most heart-breaking of all.
Wyatt Thatcher cleared his throat. “Mrs. Archer—your plea, now that we can hear you.”
Constance stared at her old friend, pain and tears welling in her eyes. “Not guilty.”
“If not for witchcraft, how do account for the brutal way you murdered Catherine Black? Surely, you were possessed,” countered Reverend Thatcher.
“I didn’t murder Catherine Black. As I told you all before, she was attacked by a beast.” She wasn’t lying, but she wasn’t telling the whole truth. The truth wouldn’t save her, and she couldn’t have her daughters hearing it. They weren’t supposed to be here, but calling attention to them now would only make matters worse.
“You’re the beast!” a woman’s voice sounded from the throng.
“Witch!” said another, followed by her husband’s jibe, “You’re Satan’s whore!”
Reverend Thatcher held his hand to the crowd; without a word, they fell silent. It wasn’t their first execution; it probably wouldn’t be their last. His attention turned to the defendant, but his eyes remained downcast, staring at the rough wood of the gallows as if it were the most interesting sight he had ever beheld.
Constance knew why Wyatt Thatcher wouldn’t look at her, knew he couldn’t show a hint of weakness or compassion for her lest he be hanged, too, for sympathizing with the Devil. Satan was in Salem Village that day—no doubt about that. But it wasn’t Constance or Reverend Thatcher. The Devil stood in the crowd, reflected in the eyes of every spectator. His hunger bellowed in their calls, their taunts, their glares, and it wouldn’t be satisfied until her limp, lifeless body waved in the autumn winds like a banner for their tainted justice, a flag of their blood-stained victory over evil.
Wyatt’s hardness broke, even if for just a second, Constance the only witness to the silent tear soaking its fleshy path across his regretful face. “And please explain to us why you were covered in her blood.”
“I’ve told you all this before, Wyatt…” Using the reverend’s first name stirred a wave of gasps from the crowd, forcing her to pause. “I carried Catherine into my house to try to stop her bleeding, to prevent her death.”
That was a lie; it was what she wanted everyone to believe, but it had been all for naught. It had only sealed her fate.
“And what of your husband’s disappearance?” An icy gust of wind blew through Constance’s locks of red hair; with it, Thatcher’s own coldness returned. “Did you use witchcraft to dispose of his body?”
“My husband was attacked, too, his body dragged into the orchard by the beast.”
That was a lie, too. She couldn’t tell them the truth—that she had, in a fit of rage after seeing Jacob and Catherine naked in the orchard, cursed her husband’s appetite for flesh. The curse had gone horribly wrong…
“Brilliant change-up on the new flood of “Fairy Tale Twists”. If you’re looking for something that can suck you in right away, this book is definitely it. The collection of short stories makes sure you never get bored with the story or writing style.” ~Jett Murdock / Amazon review
About the Publisher:
The Bearded Scribe Press, LLC is an independent publisher of quality Speculative Fiction. They aim to become a platform for emerging writers to get discovered by the mainstream and inversely, through becoming a staple in the literary community, becoming the source for readers to discover emerging talent in the Speculative Fiction realm.
Watch the [Extended] Book Trailer: