Wednesday, February 14, 2018

February Stuff: Giganotosaurus and Glittership and NZ Festival Oh My

Things are happening at A Rate this month, my bow tie is spinning.

First up: I will be interviewing Charlie Jane Anders (!!!) at New Zealand Festival Readers and Writers Week. "Beautiful Fantasy" is Saturday, March 10 at the Festival Club. I'm stunned and delighted to be asked by the Festival to undertake this task. Nervous as all get out, this is a Big Deal for me. And, hehe, I'm described as a "speculative practitioner". That's going into my bio from now on.

Second up: "Through the Eye of the Needle" went live at Giganotosaurus on February 1. Enormous dragon Kitahniaa is trapped in a magical prison by the mysterious Mistress who uses female (and in the case of Kitahniaa, non-male) practitioners of magic to her own evil ends. There Kitahniaa meets Riena, who can do amazing things with needle and thread. Do they trust each other, or is it simply another trick to strip the once great dragon of what remains of their dignity?

Third up: "Granny Death and the Drag King of London", my Freddie Mercury tribute story, is live at Glittership! I also did the narration for this, and it was so much fun finding the voices of the characters. I'm all a-fluff this story found a home at Glittership. Set in the days after dear Freddie's death, and imbued in the panic of the AIDS crisis, drag king Lacey deals with rejection, trauma, and death badly. Is she too so close to death she's seeing some weird demon lady crashing funeral buffet tables?

2018, you're doing A Thing. Yeek.

Freddie Mercury, Live at Wembley, 1986.

Monday, January 29, 2018

I Did It

Forty rejections and eight years later, I've sold a story to Clarkesworld.

It's a strange combination of can't even excitement and being able to breathe again.

I've had Clarkesworld on my Must Do list since the beginning, because they're one of my favourite magazines to read, and I respect the vision Neil Clarke has for the work he publishes.

It's a big hill to climb, which might make it easier to climb the next and the next...(one down, four other Must Do venues to go).

The story is called "Logistics", and is about Enfys, a non-binary person, searching for sanitary products in a post antibiotic resistant apocalyptic European wasteland. It's like "Even the Queen" and Joanna Russ on steroids. There's a lot of discussion about necessary bodily functions and how to cope when you can't just pop down to the supermarket for tampons.

It's partly inspired by a lecture I attended at Worldcon by Tiffani Angus of Anglia Ruskin University, talking about the deficit of femme health issues covered in speculative fiction. People still get their period and carry pregnancies during difficult times, trans people will still need medication and care, so what does that look like in the future or in an apocalyptic world where sanitation, health care, and access to medical needs has changed or is perhaps non-existent?

The story is so far set to be published in the May issue of Clarkesworld.

"Logistics" is not the only publication coming out soon. My base of stories soon to be published has crept up on me because I don't blog as often, but this year is starting to look good. "Through the Eye of the Needle" will be up at Giganotosaurus on February 1st (three days!). I've also got stories pending at Beneath Ceaseless Skies ("The Wild Ride of the Untamed Stars"), Glittership ("Granny Death and the Drag King of London"), and Three-Lobed Burning Eye ("Fault Lines").

A good start to the year, eh.

Happy Cat sez "Hey 2018, how you doin'?"

Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Ghastly and Gratitude in the Year Twenty Seventeen

2017 has been a year of stark contradictions.

Politically, it's been difficult. The Trump regime has been frightening to watch unfold on their many awful levels. Brexit and European shifts back toward white supremacy have been sickening. War in Syria and natural disaster in Puerto Rico (exacerbated by White House indifference) were heartbreaking. The New Zealand elections were a difficult and rewarding time for women - we lost an incredible mana wahine from the political system to racism and ignorance, and gained a woman Prime Minister. Remaining active in activism locally and worldwide has been intense and draining, but the small wins have been warm sunlight across a grey landscape.

Personally, my writing life was another level again, shifting above and around other years. As the year comes to a close, I can now paint my writing experience in 2017 with hindsight, bringing together a variety of successes and failures into what feels like good progress.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Pacific Monsters is here

Earlier this year I was approached by editor Margret Helgadottir who edited the Fox Spirit Books Monster anthologies ("African Monsters", "Asian Monsters", "European Monsters"). Fox Spirit were putting together a "Pacific Monsters" version, and did I have any suggestions of local authors? Sure I did!

So it was a lovely surprise when Margret asked me to write a story for the anthology too. I had the chance to meet with her too when I was in Oslo in August, so that was cool. We had a lovely chat about things publishing, and she took me for a walk around the parliamentary buildings that had been bombed where we spoke of the resilience of cities suffering from trauma. Our experiences and healing paths were different, but there was something of a connection between the two.

My choice of monster was easy - what lives in the cracks formed by fault lines? So was born E, my earthquake monster, in "From the Womb of the Land, Our Bones Entwined".

There is Maori mythology around earthquakes, and I built upon the story of Papatūānuku and Rūamoko. I talk more on this process, and a little of my history with earthquakes, in a blog post published at Fox Spirit Books, "The Spine of the Dragon".

"Pacific Monsters" from Fox Spirit Books, edited by Margret Helgadottir, is available at Amazon UK and Amazon US, currently in paperback form. 

Nga mihi to the people who helped me with my translations, and to the people of Aotearoa for their stories that hold up the spine of the land.  

Cover of "Pacfic Monsters". A sepia toned image of a battered building on a headland overlooking a waterway with an islet and broken signposts.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Glittership Ahoy!

Good news just as I'm heading off to Worldcon - I've sold a story to Glittership!

"Granny Death and the Drag King of London" is a Freddie Mercury tribute story set in London the week of his death in 1991. Lacey is a runaway deeply embedded in the fallout of the AIDs crisis and terrified she will catch the virus. The violence she has faced as she asserts her butch identity, loss of her hero, and her exposure to death has her seeing things - a strange old lady who haunts funerals.

I will also be narrating the story, and it will be released in the Autumn 2017 edition of the audio magazine.

Freddie loved his cats

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Quick Update, Four Years Later

Four years ago - FOUR YEARS - I wrote a blog post about a particular abuser in the SFF publishing industry.

Every now and then, anonymous people who have no interest in anything I do with my writing career find the blog post by searching. And they drop anonymous victim blaming comments and deny the accusations and actual legalities made known. You know, the usual people do when upholding status quo and patriarchal power structures.

I will say it AGAIN: from all that I have learned about abuse (physical, sexual, mental) in our society, I believe in and stand on the side of the abused. I do not tolerate victim blaming on this blog. I do not tolerate "Aw, but..." arguments. I do not tolerate projections of calling me a troll, when I am pointing to the lived experience of the victims. And I do not tolerate anonymous comments. It's right there in my comment policy. You will be deleted.

And really? That's the best you can do, hiding behind your keyboard on a four year old post on a minnow writer's blog? Such courage. Very asshole. Wow.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Worldcon, Here I Come!

It's been three years since I've been out of the country, and I chose a big one for my next adventure: Worldcon in Helsinki!

Two years ago I decided to go SOMEWHERE in 2017. That would give me enough time to save money (those international airfares are TOUGH for us kiwis), and Do The Decide. Worldcon in a cool place, or Wiscon (Ultra Absolute Bucket List)? When Helsinki won the bid, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to go to Scandinavia.

Making it even better? Some of my Clarion crew are going. Where has the last 3 years gone?

So here I am, two weeks from lift off. Got my new shoes, got a tuxedo jacket, and I'm ready to throw myself into the whirlwind that is one of the biggest SFF conventions of them all. I'm not on any panels or doing any readings, I'm there to soak it all up.

And meet people! Here's where the meat-suited dragon becomes more than a figment of wurds on teh screen. I'm into making connections at Worldcon, and I'm definitely going to the Escape Artists meet up and the Strange Horizons tea party. Everything else is still in flux, but I'll be in the vicinity of feministy sfnal stuff. I'm down for some barconning too. Come find me! Say hi! Please be patient of my anxious assery! And of course, in the best interests of con and safety discourse, Be Excellent To Each Other.

To help identify me:
- My badge name is AJ Fitzwater
- Same as my Twitter handle @AJFitzwater (drop me a message if you like)
- I'll have purple punky hair
- Listen for the kiwi accent and loud laugh