Writer Wednesday: Isabel Yap

Isabel Yap writes fiction and poetry, works in the tech industry, and drinks tea. Born and raised in Manila, she has also lived in California, London, and Boston. She holds a BS in Marketing from Santa Clara University, and an MBA from Harvard Business School. In 2013 she attended the Clarion Writers Workshop, and since 2016 has served as Secretary for the Clarion Foundation. Her work has appeared in venues including Tor.com, Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, and Year’s Best Weird Fiction. Her debut short story collection, Never Have I Ever, is out 2/23/2021 from Small Beer Press. She is @visyap on Twitter and her website is https://isabelyap.com.

Isabel Yap. Photo courtesy of the author.

Today we’re chatting with Yap about her forthcoming collection, writing while Filipino, and believing in yourself (or getting out of your own way) …

Cover for Never Have I Ever. Art by Alexa Sharpe.

Spells and stories, urban legends and immigrant tales: the magic in Isabel Yap’s debut collection jumps right off the page, from the joy in her new story, “A Spell for Foolish Hearts” to the terrifying tension of the urban legend “Have You Heard the One About Anamaria Marquez.”

Without context, what’s one of your favorite sentences in the book?

Humans make up wonderfully intricate rituals, pretend to have such control—but they easily devolve into animal longing, just heartbeats flaring in their cage of skin and bones.

What will readers learn about you as a person from reading your debut collection?

Well, this is a terrifying question! And the kind of thing that I’d love to turn back on the reader, as in: well, what do you think you know about me? Generally, I was trained to critique stories in terms of formalism: the author is dead. I believe authors should be taken at their word, and I’d like people to read these stories not really thinking about me at all. But one thing that did come to mind, looking at this question, is: I hope a lonely reader will feel a kindred spirit. A deeply felt, persistent loneliness is something I live with, even if I have the best family and friends anyone could really ask for. The struggle with that, and the different resolutions I see regarding it, are threaded all through the veins of this book.

Continue reading “Writer Wednesday: Isabel Yap”

Writer Wednesday: Karen Osborne

Karen Osborne. Photo courtesy of the author.

Karen Osborne is a writer, visual storyteller and violinist. She is the author of Architects of Memory and Engines of Oblivion from Tor Books. Her short fiction appears in UncannyFireside, Escape Pod, Robot Dinosaurs, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. She is a member of the DC/MD-based Homespun Ceilidh Band, emcees the Charm City Spec reading series, and once won a major event filmmaking award for taping a Klingon wedding. You can find her on Twitter at @karenthology and on the web at www.karenosborne.com.

Cover art for Engines of Oblivion, by artist Mike Heath.

The Memory War is author Karen Osborne’s lightning-fast science fiction action and adventure tale of a civilization devastated by first contact. In a corporate future where citizenship is a debt paid before it’s earned, terminally-ill salvage pilot Ash Jackson, sardonic ordnance engineer Natalie Chan and practical captain Kate Keller fight to build a future for themselves amid the wreckage of a catastrophic war against the alien Vai. When their crew discovers a genocidal secret on a ravaged colony planet, Ash and Natalie are drawn into a conspiracy that threatens to turn Ash into a living weapon—endangering Kate’s life, Natalie’s humanity, and the existence of memory itself.

Without context, what’s one of your favorite sentences in the book?

“War is science.”

If your book includes a real place on Earth, how does your version of it differ from reality?

The main character of Engines of Oblivion, the ordnance engineer Natalie Chan, grew up in Albany, New York—specifically, in and around the Empire State Plaza, which is this amazing brutalist masterpiece built on the bones of a murdered neighborhood, all white marble and tall skyscrapers surrounded by crumbling churches and rowhouses.

Continue reading “Writer Wednesday: Karen Osborne”

Writer Wednesday: L.X. Beckett

L.X. Beckett. Photo courtesy of the author.

Toronto author and editor L.X. Beckett frittered their youth working as an actor and theater technician in Southern Alberta before deciding to make a shift into writing science fiction. Their first novella, “Freezing Rain, a Chance of Falling,” appeared in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 2018, and takes place in the same universe as their 2019 novel Gamechanger. Lex identifies as feminist, lesbian, genderqueer, married, and Slytherin. An insatiable consumer of mystery and crime fiction, as well as true crime narratives, they can be found on Twitter at @LXBeckett or at the Lexicon, http://lxbeckett.com.

Today we’re chatting about Beckett’s latest novel Dealbreaker, the sequel to Gamechanger

Dealbreaker cover art.

L. X. Beckett’s Dealbreaker is the thrilling sci-fi sequel to Gamechanger, perfect for fans of Neuromancer and Star Trek.

Humans achieved the impossible in Gamechanger: proving that Earth’s sentient population deserves a seat at the galactic table… or at least a shot at one. To be accepted by offworlder races who might otherwise swallow the Sol system into expansionist colonial empires, humankind must fix the planet’s ecological problems, invent FTL, rapidly develop wormhole technology, and leap a number of other arbitrary hurdles, all to prove they have an advanced and civilized culture.

Frankie Barnes was nine when first contact changed everything—like, everything–for humanity. Two decades later, she has fought her way onto the test pilot leaderboard, placing herself on the cutting edge of the effort to kickstart a faster-than-light revolution, before the aliens change their minds. Nothing matters more than preserving her people’s independence… or it didn’t, until she fell in love and married into a pack of husbands and wives who know all too well that test pilots have a screamingly high mortality rate.

But soon it’s clear that Earth’s problems are bigger than a few races arguing that humans are too toxic, greedy and backwards to be permitted free movement within the galaxy. Out at the most remote of Earth’s fragile space stations it becomes clear that would-be imperialist saboteurs are actively working to kneecap all Earth’s efforts to pull itself up. Set against the emerging threat of the foreclosure of earth, even her family’s fears and the threat of heartbreak aren’t quite enough to keep Frankie out of the pilot’s seat.

Continue reading “Writer Wednesday: L.X. Beckett”

Writer Wednesday: Phoebe Barton

Please note: under normal circumstances this would have been posted and promoted on Wednesday Jan 20, 2021. Due to the US Inauguration and the flood of news surrounding it, I decided to push Phoebe’s interview by a day so it wouldn’t get lost. – Carrie Cuinn

Phoebe Barton. Photo courtesy of the author.

Phoebe Barton is a queer trans science fiction writer. Her short fiction has appeared in venues such as AnalogOn Spec, and Kaleidotrope, and she has experience with more than a dozen transit systems across North America and Europe. She serves as an Associate Editor at Escape Pod, is a 2019 graduate of the Clarion West Writers Workshop, and lives with a robot in the sky above Toronto. Connect with her on Twitter at @aphoebebarton or www.phoebebartonsf.com.

Today we’re bringing her in to talk about her latest release, a huge text-based interactive fiction game out now from Choice of Games.

The Luminous Undergroud. Image from Choice of Games. Art by EJ Dela Cruz.

Strange things are going down underground! Build your team, descend beneath the city streets, and face down daemons with magic and science in The Luminous Underground, a 660,000-word interactive, choice-based secondary-world science fantasy novel by Phoebe Barton. Can you and your crew clear out a haunted subway that’s slowly falling apart? Here’s your chance to find out! Grab your gear, build your team, and brave the tunnels – and if you’re good enough, maybe you can prove to everyone that you’re the best daemon hunter in town.

Without context, what’s one of your favorite sentences in the book?

It’s not a sentence so much as a line of dialogue, but it’s one I keep coming back to. I feel like it encapsulates the energy I put into the game, of doing your best but being thwarted by and and taking the heat for forces beyond your control.

“Bells.” McCowan brushes demolition dust and stray bits of wreckage off his coveralls. “I’ll bet we get blamed for this.”

What Earth-like traditions or objects were important to you to include in your story?

While The Luminous Underground is set in a secondary world, a lot of its aspects are imported from Earth for commentary and familiarity – which also makes it easier for me, because the work’s already been done! The Barrington subway is strongly influenced by the Toronto subway system, seeing as how that’s the one I’m most familiar with, but the most personal inclusion from reality is Bradford Street Public School in Chapter 1: it’s not based so much on my old elementary school so much as I used the memories of my old elementary school as a set.

Continue reading “Writer Wednesday: Phoebe Barton”

Writer Wednesday: Sam J. Miller

Sam. J. Miller. Photo courtesy of the author.

Sam J. Miller’s books have been called “must reads” and “bests of the year” by USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, and O: The Oprah Magazine, among others. He is the Nebula-Award-winning author of Blackfish City, which has been translated into six languages. His short stories have been widely anthologized, including in multiple editions of the Best American series. He lives in New York City, and at samjmiller.com.

Today he drops by the site to talk about his latest novel, The Blade Between

The Blade Between is a ghost story about a damaged gay guy who goes home to try to save the town he hated (and the people he loves) from the destructive plans of corporate interests… but he’s manipulated by dark forces both human and monstrous, and his scheme swiftly spirals into supernatural violence. One reviewer called it “James Baldwin meets Stephen King.”

Without context, what’s one of your favorite sentences in the book?

“Love is harder than hate.” 

What makes this book different from anything else you’ve done?

It’s different from my other work in that it’s a grisly horror story, which I’ve never done before at novel length. But it’s 100000% THE SAME as everything else I’ve done in that it’s about fraught gay love and horrific systemic injustice and monsters and charismatic megafauna. 

The Blade Between is set in your hometown of Hudson, New York. How does your version of it differ from reality?

While I tried to cleave as closely as possible to the actual city I love and hate so much, I couldn’t resist throwing in some ghosts and monsters and murder and mass arson. And whales. Well, the whales are real. Hudson really was a whaling city. As to whether their ghosts still haunt the place, I guess that’s tough to prove one way or another. 

Continue reading “Writer Wednesday: Sam J. Miller”