Indigenizing SF&F conventions

Muskrat Magazine logoI wrote recently on this blog about my cultural appropriation concerns when I was researching and writing my novel, The Wolf at the End of the World, which deals with and incorporates Anishinabe (specifically, Ojibwe) and Cree characters, stories, traditions, and issues, all around a theme of environment destruction and loss of animal habitat.

In November, I had the pleasure of meeting Zainab Amadahy, a fellow novelist and (among many other things) a writer for Muskrat Magazine, when she attended the launch for the book in Toronto.

A frequent discussion point around SF&F literature relates to its traditional domination by white writers of European ancestry (I could add "male" to that list, but that's not to the point of this post). Zainab is writing a three-part series for Muskrat, that she describes as follows:

What I’d like to offer in the next three segments are some suggestions to Science Fiction and Fantasy convention organizers everywhere who might be interested in growing and diversifying their events. Part one of this blog will outline the issue. Part two offers solutions and approaches. Part three will contain concrete suggestions for panel titles. 

Part one of her series outlines her own experiences (some positive, but mostly not) stemming from the typical lack of ethnic diversity at SF conventions. Happily, she cites my book launch as one of the positive experiences.

In part two of the series, just posted today, Zainab explores ways of diversifying events and discusses why diversifying your con might be important.

I'm not sure I'm in full agreement with her point #5 in part 2. If you tell a con organizer that something needs to be fixed, you're generally going to be invited to join in trying to fix it. Cons are volunteer-run, fan-funded operations that can always use extra help. And being invited in is a good thing, since it implies interest in solving the problem--and fixing an organizational problem is generally easier from the inside.

But beyond that, I'm in strong agreement that much can be done to make SF&F cons more ethnically and culturally diverse and inviting.

I'll post the link to the third part in Zainab's series when it goes up. I hope you'll check out the posts and leave Zainab a comment. Feel free to leave a comment here as well.

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On writing about another culture

The Wolf at the End of the World cover

“When we understand each other's stories, we understand everything a little better—even ourselves.”
—Someplace to be Flying, Charles de Lint

This will be a long post, but for me, it's an important one. I'm basing this post on the afterword that I include in my new novel, The Wolf at the End of the World. However, since a potential reader, especially a First Nations reader, may have concerns over the issue I address here (and therefore not read the book), I'm posting that afterword here.

On the Origin of The Wolf at the End of the World

My intent for writing this post is primarily to address a fear I had about writing The Wolf at the End of the World.  But before I can get into that, I need to first talk about the book's genesis.

Interview in the Markham Review

Aliza Libman Baronofsky interviews me in my local paper, the Markham Review, about my novel, THE WOLF AT THE END OF THE WORLD and moving from short fiction to novels. 

Pictures from THE WOLF launch in Toronto

First, thanks to everyone who turned out at my launch for my new novel, The Wolf at the End of the World, at SFContario on November 30. Chris Szego of Bakka-Phoenix Books handled the book sales, and my good friend, George Hardy, was kind enough to not only show up but also to act as photographer for the event. (By the way, if anyone is interested in the services of a great photographer, you can contact George (George S K Hardy) at photos@gskh6.ca.)

Here are some of the photos.

Pictures from the launch for The Wolf at the End of the WorldA good start! People actually showed up!

Book launch for THE WOLF this Saturday in Toronto

The Wolf at the End of the World coverIf you're in the Toronto area, please join me on Saturday November 30 for the Toronto launch of my new novel THE WOLF AT THE END OF THE WORLD. The launch will take place at the SFContario convention, but you do not need to be attending the convention to attend my launch. 

Here are the details:

Saturday, November 30
6:00 - 7:00 pm
Courtyard Room
Ramada Plaza Hotel
300 Jarvis St, Toronto
The nice people at Bakka-Phoenix Books will be there, and you'll be able to buy signed and personalized copies of the print edition, as well as the ebook edition in whatever format you like. Plus I'll have some free giveaways just for showing up. You can read more about THE WOLF here including an excerpt, as well as some early reviews.
 
I hope to see you there!  

Cicada publishes "The Boys Are Back in Town" (again)

Cicada Nov / Dec 2013 issue coverThe excellent young-adult literary magazine, Cicada, has just republished my Zelazny-esque urban fantasy story "The Boys are Back in Town" in their Nov / Dec 2013 issue (cover at the left). This is the sixth appearance for this story, which first appeared in...uh...Cicada way back in 2000. I think it was the seventh story I'd ever sold at that point.

And yes, it is unusual for a magazine to reprint a story that they'd originally published. It's never happened to me before.

But it makes sense from the magazine's perspective. First, it saves them money. They pay less for a reprint than for a first rights sale (but they still pay very well for reprints—more than most markets pay for first rights). And since Cicada is aimed at teens, their current readers are not going to be the same group who read the story when it first came out twelve years ago.

And finally, hey, it's a good story. If you're interested, you can read reviews of the story here and check out the ebook version. "The Boys are Back in Town" also appeared in my collection, Chimerascope.

5-Star review for The Wolf at the End of the World

The Wolf at the End of the World coverWell, this is a nice start for my first novel. Kelly Jensen at SF Crowsnest has given The Wolf at the End of the World a five-star review over at SF Crowsnest. Here are some snippets from her review:

I don’t read a lot of paranormal stuff. … There are some interpretations of lore I like, though, and some authors I will read, almost regardless of what the story is. Douglas Smith and his debut novel, The Wolf At The End Of The World, fill both criteria.

… The last twenty pages were an emotional experience (read: messy), which is always what elevates a book from four to five stars for me. I love a story that hits all the emotional buttons from laughter to tears. When that happens, it goes without saying the writing is good and the story is engaging, the characters are deep enough to make me feel.
 
…  In his introduction, Charles de Lint touches on the same points and the same feeling. It’s the interweaving of lore and ideas that gives this novel so much substance. …
 
Given the number of awards Douglas has won for his short stories, it’s hardly surprising he’s written such a fabulous book and it’s lovely to be able to say so, unreservedly. I really enjoyed ‘The Wolf At The End Of The World’ and I’m happy to have a copy to put on my shelf. With adventure, intrigue, shape-shifters, family, a touch of romance and a lot of heart, this is a book I’d recommend for readers of all genres.
–Kelly Jensen, SF Crowsnest, October 2013

You can read Kelly's full review here.

"The Walker..." will be walking in Italy

Sample Quasar magazine coverCool. Shortly after my Aurora Award win for "The Walker of the Shifting Borderland," I received a request from Luigi Petruzzelli, the editor of the relatively new Italian SF&F magazine, Quasar, to translate and publish the story in an upcoming issue. And they pay well, which is not always the case for foreign genre markets, many of which don't pay at all. This will be my fourth publication in Italy.

The story should appear in Quasar either in the next issue before the end of 2013 or in their March 2014 issue. I'll post the actual cover of the issue with "The Walker..." when it comes out.

If you want to read the story in English, it's available from my online bookstore here.

New story "Fiddleheads" out now in Chilling Tales 2

Chilling Tales 2 coverOver two years ago, I'd posted about the sale of my story "Fiddleheads" to the anthology Chilling Tales 2: In Words, Alas, Drown I. Well, the book has finally been released and is now available.

This is only the second time I've sold to what I'd call a clear "horror" market, the other time being "By Her Hand, She Draws You Down." Horror is not a genre I generally aim at, but I write the stories that show up in my head, and this one came out that way.

Here's an excerpt from the back cover copy:

"Canada’s maestro of the macabre, Michael Kelly, brings you CHILLING TALES: In Words, Alas, Drown I, an all new collection of nightmares that will perturb and torment you. Tales that will leave a frisson of fear and raise a quiver of gooseflesh. A chill is in the air."

With an introduction by editor Michael Kelly, the book contains a fantastic representation of Canadian dark fantasy and horror writers. I'm proud to have a story in a book edited by Michael, and to be included in this amazing roster of authors. Here's the table of contents:

  • In Libitina’s House by Camille Alexa
  • Gingerbread People by Colleen Anderson
  • Meteor Lake by Kevin Cockle
  • Homebody by Gemma Files
  • Snowglobes by Lisa L Hannett
  • The Dog’s Paw by Derek Künsken
  • The Flowers of Katrina by Claude Lalumière
  • Goldmine by Daniel LeMoal
  • The Salamander’s Waltz by Catherine MacLeod
  • Weary, Bone Deep by Michael Matheson
  • The Windemere by Susie Moloney
  • Black Hen A La Ford by David Nickle
  • Day Pass by Ian Rogers
  • Fiddleheads by Douglas Smith
  • Dwelling on the Past by Simon Strantzas
  • Heart of Darkness by Edo van Belkom
  • Fishfly Season by Halli Villegas
  • Road Rage by Bev Vincent
  • Crossroads Blues by Robert J. Wiersema
  • Honesty by Rio Youers

Check it out here.

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