Readings on A Wet Afternoon

During the breaks at the recent Colloquium I worked away on a new short story. I started it last summer at Loyalist & hope to have it finished before Loyalist this year. Last year at the Colloquium I found myself writing about the hot guy from Columbia who was even then slipping out of my grasp. It was sweetly pathetic but I’ve moved on.

They say write about what you know, which sometimes works, so this story is about a book launch for Soul Harvest, a company which publishes supernatural, fantasy and horror (a bit like ChiZine, the hosts of the Colloquium). The event is for the launch of three book by three different authors. One of whom hasn’t arrived when the launch starts.


carpet square

It’s set on a rainy afternoon in some book store (details to be filled in when the story is finished.) The challenge, for me, is to create three different authors, different genres & actually write sections of each of their works that they would be reading from at the launch. It is key to me to give each of them a different written voice.

One is ‘Grandma in the Attic,’ a YA about a young girl who accidentally kills her grandmother and hide the body, you guessed it, in the attic. But Grandma has been such a nasty person no one in the family really misses her until etc.


the speckled glove

The second is ‘Red Horn’ number four in a series of vampire unicorn porn (uniporn). I know there are niches for so many weird mashup of genres and this one has been fun to world build for & almost has potential for becoming real (if someone wants to pay me big bucks to write it.) (sample of it here:

Both of these are to be seasoned & slightly bored authors. The third is launching his first book of sinister, strange stories. He is the one running behind time and shows up after the first two are done. POV is of the organizer of the launch, also a bit bored about the whole nature of launches etc. Of course things end badly but I’m not giving away the ending.


coming or going

I’m still working on things: like names, how creepy the location will be & of course how much of a twist I want to give the ending, which, without giving much away involves a traffic accident, a death and oh my …


this a very rough draft sample of the ‘Gramma in the Attic’ section – that has been transcribed from my written notes – so who knows how it’ll change when I get the whole piece cobbled together.

“Life changed when Gramma came to live with us. My Dad began acting different, as if he was afraid of doing the wrong thing. Before that he was the one who knew everything and we kids never doubted what he told us. Even Mom was unsure of herself when Gramma was around.

It started a few days after Gramma had moved in. Grampie had died and she had no wheres else to go. That’s what Dad told us. Davey wasn’t happy because it meant he’d have to move out of his room to share with Brett. At least I kept to keep my room to myself. Because I was a girl I was afraid that I’d have to share my room with Gramma.

We knew her pretty well from spending Christmas with her and Grampie since I was born ten years ago. It was even longer for my brothers. So we knew her pretty well and just didn’t get why Dad was so weird when she moved in with us.

Like I say it started a few days after she moved in, when I asked Dad about something and Gramma snapped at him that he was as stupid as ever and what good did he think he was doing tell me whatever it was he had told me. My bothers looked at her amazed. We’d never heard anyone talk to my Dad like that. Not even our Mom.

It was the following week that she insisted on taking me to see Grampie’s grave at the cemetery and no, we didn’t need Dad to drive us there.”

At this point in the story Shirley began to tune out. This happened often, especially when she’d already read or heard the same story a few times. The way xx would slip into this childlike character made the telling interesting but Shirley never felt drawn into this particular story. But having the dead Gramma stuck in the attic was the sort of wry twist on domestic strife she enjoyed but the child pov bored her. She longed for real dialogue, too, not all this recounted from the child’s memory of things. Audience laugher brought her attention back to xx’s reading.

“I mean, it wasn’t my fault Gramma got her foot stuck in the mud by that grave. As I told my Dad, I didn’t mean to let go when I was trying to help her up. She just slipped and fell back into the mud. Then she was real quiet. Real quiet.

I hadn’t seen my Dad smile like that for weeks.”

The audience applauded.

“Thanks you for being such great listeners.” xx closed her eReader and put it back in her purse. “I’ll be happy to autograph copies of my book …. ” she smiled mischievously, “ or your eReaders.”


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Up SpecFic Alleys

2015 Toronto SpecFic Colloquium, once again at Round,152A Augusta Avenue, brought a powerful set of presenters for an over-filled day of fantasy, scifi, horror and SpecFic panels.

After grabbing a great bagel and coffee from Nu Bagel on Augusta I was ready for the long climb up the stairs at Round (how do drunks manage these steep, unlit stairs?) where I was greeted by an impressive loot bag of ten books (mostly trade paper size) and a flurry of promo postcards. (books in the loot bag: Kevin J Anderson: Resurrection Inc.; Ellen Datlow ed: Fearful Symmetries; Field Research Org: Half-Cat; Kenneth Mark Hoover: Haxan; Laurence Klavan: The Family Unit; Amanda Leduc: The Miracle of Ordinary Men; Michelle Sagara: Silence Douglas Smith: Chimerascope; Right to Know: Edward Willett) Organizers also provided a huge urn of Tim Ho’s finest and a wide selection of donuts & muffins.


loot bag loot (note Rocksteady travel mug not part of the loot)

The wide selection of presenters was satisfying & probably better for me than the donuts. First up was Alex Leitch: Retrofuturism and Spectacular Collaboration: ‘dirt is more interesting than glass’ dirt makes the future world real. She suggested that going up an ‘alley’ in a story is more intriguing than walking along the main street. Being partial to taking pictures on laneways I had to agree. I also had to agree when she said we live in a culture where it is cheaper & easier to tear down & rebuild than it is to maintain.

She was followed by Derek Newman-Stille: Accessible Space: The Final Frontier? Disability in Speculative Genres: with a great presentation on disability – how easily we are deaf to using terms like ‘turned a blind eye.’ With examples from Star Trek to Dr Who he showed how disability is rarely allowed to be normal but was either noble or vengeful. I love his statement that ‘as a disabled person he doesn’t feel the need to be a para-Olympian just to prove he’s accepted himself.


wave of the present art at NuBagel

After a brief break Dave McIntosh: Quipucamayoc: Interactive Media Art Project in Cusco and Buenos Aires: a fascinating presentation on (amongst other things) quipu – a South America form of story telling with knotted strands – knots as a sort of binary code – an ebook that doesn’t need a battery. I wonder how many of us will try to use the fact that at one time the faces of heroes would be peeled off at death & taken out once a year to be shown & animated like a puppet. I found it ironic that he couldn’t access the files on the Interactive project.

The lunch break was welcome. I had the silver bass with white beans. I worked on the vampire unicorn porn part of a long short story I’m developing (more about that later in the week). After lunch keynote speaker Nnedi Okorafor gave an inspiring, perceptive talk about her history, race & her writing process. As a black woman she’s been asked why she doesn’t write about American racism – as if that is the only thing she can write about authentically – that she is wasting her talent writing SpecFic when she could write serious work. One of her editing tips is on the fourth edit to change the font of the entire manuscript. I could go on – maybe I’ll do another post just about this talk in a week or so.


loot close up

After another brief break Simon McNeil: From Guernica to Gamergate: The Inseparability of Art and Politics. Partially a look at the misuse of the label ‘censorship’ – i.e. how voicing a contrary opinion become an attempt to censor what you feel contrary to so you better keep your contrary opinion to yourself. One of the conclusions is that like beauty, political content is often in the eye of the reader not the creator. Another complex presentation that may result in my writing more about it & the notions of PC, freedom of speech & censorship.

The day wrapped with a fun, perceptive almost fanboy teen squee by David Nickle: Secret Agent, Secret Shame. A presentation on the embarrassing appeal of Ian Fleming’s James Bond. I’ve always enjoyed seeing literary history re-interpreted though the lens of present day theory – such feminists looking at misogyny in the works of Conan Doyle. Here Nickle reveals the racism, misogyny etc in Bond. But none of that keeps most men from wishing we had those gadgets, that attraction for the opposite sex & that sense of cool in the face of danger.

Angela Keeley did MC duties for the day & kept things running on time. Her enthusiasm for the genres was contagious – not that anyone would have wandered into the Colloquium without being infected already. All the presenters were more expansive than I can adequately explore here so forgive my rather narrow selectivity of their talks.

more of my pics:


Here’s a bit of what I was writing when I wasn’t making notes or enjoying some of the male eye candy. The shorty story, untitled at this point, features three writers, writing in different horror genres reading from their work. One of them is launching the fifth volume in his series about vampire unicorns.

Red Horn could smell the woman. He stood still at the edge of the parking lot, the moon reflecting silver on the windscreens of the cars. Cars that were another of the ways humans had ruined the habitats of his race.

Humans, he snorted, as his front hooves scraped at the asphalt. He could feel the earth struggle to breathe beneath this hard crust.

He heard the woman gasp at the sound of his pawing. Her fear scent increased. The tip of his horn twinged briefly. It knew there would be blood soon. This was one way of righting the balance of nature.

Suddenly the woman stood. “Please don’t …” she begged.

Red Horn was pleased to see he ranked as she approached him.

“You started me,” she said brushing his mane with her hands. “I am the one who summoned you and yet when you appeared I was afraid.”

Her hands moved along his flanks, under his belly to dance briefly along his gentiles. “Most of all I was afraid of this.” she squeezed his testicles. “That it would be too large.”

The twinge moved down from the top of his horn. He knew she was ready. When the blood was willing it tasted better. He nuzzled her breasts and then let his lips open at her neck.

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