Writer Wednesday: C.L. Clark

This week C.L. Clark (Cherae) was kind enough to stop by for a quick chat about her debut novel, The Unbroken. Cherae graduated from Indiana University’s creative writing MFA and was a 2012 Lambda Literary Fellow. She’s been a personal trainer, an English teacher, and an editor, and is some combination thereof as she travels the world. When she’s not writing or working, she’s learning languages, doing P90something, or reading about war and [post-]colonial history. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in FIYAH, PodCastle, Uncanny and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Now she’s one of the co-editors at PodCastle, and the SFWA Blog editor.

C.L. Clark, photo courtesy of the author.

First, the blurb…

Every Empire Demands Revoultion. Touraine is a soldier. Stolen as a child and raised to kill and die for the empire, her only loyalty is to her fellow conscripts. But now, her company has been sent back to her homeland to stop a rebellion, and the ties of blood may be stronger than she thought. Luca needs a turncoat. Someone desperate enough to tiptoe the bayonet’s edge between treason and orders. Someone who can sway the rebels toward peace, while Luca focuses on what really matters: getting her uncle off her throne. Through assassinations and massacres, in bedrooms and war rooms, Touraine and Luca will haggle over the price of a nation. But some things aren’t for sale.

And this cover! I adore it.

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

“If you thought I’d be useful, I’d be free by now.”

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Writer Wednesday: Marie Vibbert

Writer Wednesday is back! Today we’re chatting with Marie Vibbert about her new novel, Galactic Hellcats

Marie Vibbert. Photo courtesy of the author.

Marie Vibbert has sold over 60 short stories to markets such as Analog, Amazing Stories, and F&SF. The Oxford Culture review called her work, “Everything science fiction should be.” Her stories have been translated by magazines in Vietnam and China! By day she is a computer programmer in Cleveland, Ohio, and has been a medieval reenactor and a professional football player. 

Vibbert’s novel is out now from Vernacular Books! What is Galactic Hellcats? The quick but enticing explanation is it’s a novel about a female biker gang in outer space rescuing a gay prince, and forming a family together. Yeah, you want to know more…

Cover art by I.L. Vinokur; Elf Elm Publishing did the design and layout. 

Where do you see yourself in this story? Or more accurately, where would your readers see you, between the lines?

I was a bit of a klepto as a kid. Growing up poor, all the things I wanted were on the other side of safety glass or security tie-downs. I’d go days without eating down the street from a store full of candy. Is it any wonder then, that all my heroes were cat thieves? I thrilled over Harry Harrison’s “Stainless Steel Rat” and thought Cat Woman should’ve beaten Batman every time. I got mad when the characters in my stories didn’t get to keep their treasures, which sure happened a lot.  

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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.

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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.

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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.

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