DatesOctober 16–19, 2014
LocationSkamania Lodge, Stevenson, Washington
Guests of Honor
Kendare Blake’s most recent work, Antigoddess, is the first in a trilogy about Greek gods and reincarnated heroes and received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous markets, including the Momaya Press Annual Review and Mirror Dance. Kendare's debut novel, Sleepwalk Society, deals with four friends coming of age post 9/11. Both Anna Dressed in Blood and Girl of Nightmares are young adult horror chronicling the life of Cas Lowood, a teenage ghost hunter who falls in love with the dead girl he was supposed to kill. Girl of Nightmares made the Kirkus Best of Teen 2012 list. Kendare is a graduate of Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York, and received an MA in creative writing from Middlesex University in London, England.
Rosemary Clement-Moore’s Texas Gothic, about the Goodnight family of witches in Texas, received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews and School Library Journal, was included on Kirkus’ Best Teen Books of 2011, and appeared on ALA’s 2012 List of Best Books for Young Adults. Her most recently published work, Spirit and Dust, introduces readers to Daisy, another member of the Goodnight family. She is also the author of the Maggie Quinn: Girl vs. Evil series (Prom Dates from Hell, Hell Week, and Highway to Hell), which is about a mystery-loving school newspaper reporter who inherited her grandmother’s sixth sense, and The Splendor Falls, about a ballerina who can’t dance and may be losing her mind.
Andrea Hairston’s second speculative novel, Redwood and Wildfire, won both the James Tiptree, Jr. Award for 2011 and the Carl Brandon Kindred Award for 2011. Her first novel, Mindscape, won the Carl Brandon Parallax Award and was shortlisted for the Phillip K Dick Award and the James Tiptree, Jr. Award. She is the artistic director of Chrysalis Theatre and has created original productions with music, dance, and masks for over thirty years. Andrea is also the Louise Wolff Kahn 1931 Professor of Theatre and Afro-American Studies at Smith College. Her plays have been produced at Yale Rep, Rites and Reason, the Kennedy Center, StageWest, and on public radio and television. Andrea has received many playwriting and directing awards, including several National Endowment for the Arts grants for playwrights, new works, to work as a dramaturge/director with playwright Pearl Cleage; a Ford Foundation grant to collaborate with Senegalese master drummer Massamba Diop; and a Shubert Fellowship for playwriting. Since 1997, her science fiction plays produced by Chrysalis Theatre included Soul Repairs, Lonely Stardust, Hummingbird Flying Backward, and Dispatches. Archangels of Funk, a sci-fi theatre jam, garnered her a Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship for 2003. Her next book, Lonely Stardust: Two Plays, a Speech, and Eight Essays, was released by Aqueduct Press this past spring.
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Books and Breakfast
Friday, October 17, 2014
The Demon Catchers of Milan, Kat Beyer
The Diviners, Libba Bray
The Red Tree, Caitlín R. Kiernan
The Frangipani Hotel, Violet Kupersmith
A Stranger in Olondria, Sofia Samatar
Saturday, October 18, 2014
Long Lankin, Lindsey Barraclough
Anya’s Ghost, Vera Brosgol
Comfort Woman, Nora Okja Keller
White Is for Witching, Helen Oyeyemi
My Real Children, Jo Walton
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2014 Accepted Programming
Back to Bly: Ghosts and Lovers in "The Turn of the Screw"
Henry James’s "The Turn of the Screw" is known for being a ghost story, but it is also a love story. This paper looks at both love story and ghost story, and at the three couples that feature in them: Uncle and Governess; Miles and Flora; Quint and Miss Jessel. In doing so it hopes to discover exactly what kind of dangers the ghosts of Bly—an abandoned woman and a thoughtless rake—represent to the heroine.
Demystifying Social Media
The hydra called "Social Media" has many heads, and as soon as one is cut off, two more appear. Whether it be Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook or more, social media technology changes almost as often as your News Feed. In the book community, authors, agents, professionals, retailers, and reviewers all use social media: to buzz about books, recap events, express excitement over good news, or rage over the latest injustice. In this presentation, we will cover some case studies and discuss authenticity, social listening, networking, the balance of professional (writing, publishing, your book) and personal (photos of your cat), and why both matter. We'll also review popular platforms and their strengths and best audiences and go over best practices for conducting yourself online.
Home, Haunted Home: The First Bastion of Femininity in Ghost Stories
The haunted house narrative is so ubiquitous that, from the emergence of the ghost story as a popular genre of European and American literature in the 1800s, it has seemed near-synonymous with the genre. From the haunting of a house by a spirit, as in The Haunting of Hill House, to a woman made ghost elsewhere who returns to haunt her house, as in Helen R. Hull’s story, “Clay-Shuttered Doors,” to a story in which a sentient house is, in fact, a character itself, as in White Is for Witching, houses have dominated our concept of what it means to be haunted. This presentation will explore that dominance, and especially what it means that a house is so often deemed a woman’s place, so often these ghosts are women, and so often these tales are written by female authors.
It’s Coming from Inside the Dollhouse
Literature for young people in the 1970s and '80s included a number of scary stories, including The Dollhouse Murders and The Doll in the Garden. Haunted toys can still be found in books like Doll Bones. This paper will explore haunted objects in books that have been aimed at young readers of yesterday and today.
Mommie Dearest: The Predominance of Dead, Missing, and Cruel Mothers in Fantasy Literature
So much of fantasy literature is premised on the hero’s journey, a mythic call to adventure that the hero answers. Nearly always, that call requires that the hero leave his home—and his parents—in pursuit of that adventure. Numerous critics have examined the hero’s journey through a feminist lens and found it lacking with respect to heroines, who are more likely to organize the home and find a babysitter before setting off on a journey with a team of adventurers. Even given that deconstruction, and reconstruction, of the hero’s journey for heroines, however, authors continue to, literally or figuratively, remove a heroine’s mother from the picture, as if she’s incapable of adventuring with a supportive maternal presence. The presentation examines that trope, as well as examples of fantasy literature that feature amazing mothers.
Kate Tremills, Roberta Cottam, Kathryn Cottam
Hauntings are most often associated with humans, whether mysterious visitors in The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong or a heartbreaking narrator in The Lovely Bones. Equally haunted, however, are the landscapes that bear witness to centuries of tragedy wreaked by humankind. Battlefields soaked with blood and trees that held the last breath of slaves or martyrs; our natural surroundings are haunted by the actions of humans. This panel explores two concepts: the land and trees have spirits just as humans do, and those spirits are haunted by the memory of the actions they have borne witness to over their existence.
Suzanne Rogers Gruber
Haunted Women: Hauntings as Doppelgängers for Deeper Female Themes
Amy Tenbrink, Kendare Blake, Rosemary Clement-Moore, Andrea Hairston
Hauntings is a powerful theme, especially for women authors, whose work, despite publishers’ preference for male-authored works, both established and popularized the genre. Women authors have frequently used spirits, shades, remembrances, and things that go bump in the night to both tell a ripping good tale and to explore deeper themes, from duty to love, family to redemption and retribution. The guests of honor for Sirens will discuss the haunted tale, what it means to them personally, and what it means to women authors and readers over time.
The Importance—and Business—of Diversity in Fantasy Literature by Women
Amy Tenbrink, Faye Bi, Amy Boggs, Joy Kim
Over the past few years, discussions about diversity—of both authors and of characters—in fiction have become increasingly vocal and vehement, with readers and authors clamoring for improvement, but the overall number of representations, according to data of Diversity in YA and others, moving very little. Join our panel, including an agent, a publisher representative, and a librarian, as we examine diverse representations in fantasy literature by women, discuss the business of books, and perhaps recommend some outstanding books by diverse authors featuring diverse characters.
The Magic of Reading and Reviewing Fantasy
Hallie Tibbetts, Kate Larking
Reviewers are an important part of the literary ecosystem; documenting their love of books helps other readers find new favorites. The reviewing process, however, differs from person to person. This panel will discuss the why and how of reviewing, as well as fantasy reads and wish lists.
Portal Fantasy: Threat or Menace?
Rosamund Hodge, Cora Anderson, Rachel Manija Brown
Everybody knows about portal fantasy, where characters from the "real world" cross into a separate fantasy world. It is a classic trope that still draws readers—the Chronicles of Narnia have never been out of print. And yet new portal fantasies are very seldom published, and many agents and editors have said that they're unmarketable. What exactly is this subgenre, and why is it so loved and so shunned at the same time? What new stories does it still have to offer?
A Tourist's Guide to the Undiscovered Country
Rosamund Hodge, Cora Anderson, Kendare Blake, Joy Kim
From The Descent of Inanna to Dante’s Divine Comedy to Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Farthest Shore, journeys to the underworld/afterlife have been a staple of fantastic literature. This panel will discuss both the ancient tradition of underworld journeys and how this tradition is used in modern fantasy. Why does this theme have such an enduring appeal? How do modern novels use and transform it?
Novel Marketing—Sirens Edition
To sell books, you need to market your fiction. But you don't want to market and come off like a smarmy used-car salesperson! What is the best way to market your fiction? Relationship and content marketing. When should you start building your fiction marketing platform? ASAP! Let’s talk author branding, professional networking, and platform building—tailored for Sirens attendees!
The Adapter’s Lens: A Song of Ice and Fire Women from Page to Screen
George R. R. Martin’s epic series, A Song of Ice and Fire, has been criticized, repeatedly, for its treatment of its female characters—and defended, repeatedly, by asserting that Martin treats all of his characters terribly. A perhaps more complicated question addresses the changes wrought in Martin’s female characters as they are transformed from page to screen. Join us to discuss these decisions—often made by male creators, writers and directors—and their effect on the narrative.
Butch Bitches and Daft Damsels: Sexism in Fantasy Literature
This roundtable discussion will examine and dissect everyday sexism found within fantasy literature. We will focus both on the sexism women writers encounter within the publishing industry in regard to their characters and stories as well as in regard to themselves as writers, and how they’re subsequently represented to the public at large. Participants will be prompted to discuss commonly known facets of sexism, such as the encouragement of J. K. Rowling’s publisher that she use only her initials because they feared boys would be less interested in reading a book written by a woman, as well as lesser known incidents or personal experiences of sexism. This can include anything from writing under a pseudonym, to being asked to change a character’s sex simply for audience appeal, or the always popular "Your female character isn’t likeable or approachable, change her." In addition to looking at female authors and the sexism they've faced, we'll explore the fact that under certain circumstances, a male writer having written the same thing might not have been asked to alter their characters or the name under which their work is being marketed.
The Ghostly Hands – Unseen Maids, Mothers, and Mistresses in Literature
Having once read about the “invisible hands” of the off-page servants and staff in Austen's work and other historic literature, I wonder about how much history-inspired S/F either relegates off the page or forgets entirely the community required to run a great house, fortress, or even ranch. Who is raising the corn? Who is hauling the bathwater? Do they have stories to tell?
There and Back Again: Near-Death in Science Fiction and Fantasy
Death and rebirth is a common step along the hero's or heroine's journey, so it is not uncommon for sci-fi and fantasy characters to have near-death experiences or ghostly visitations while on death's threshold. This roundtable will explore the purpose and commonalities of fictional near-death experiences and associated tropes. We will also discuss how the fictional depictions compare to real life accounts and various cultural myths.
Where Authors and Readers Meet: What Makes Hauntings Stories Terrifying?
Edith Wharton, a great lover and writer of ghost stories, once reasoned that truly successful ghost stories require “two conditions abhorrent to the modern mind: silence and continuity,” and that in reading and writing ghost stories, she was conscious of a “common medium” between author and reader, where the reader actually “meet[s] [the author] halfway among the primeval shadows….” Is it true that, for a hauntings story to be terrifying, the reader must be prepared to meet the author halfway? And if so, is a skilled author able to entice the reader to that meeting point?
Voice Workshop for Authors, Readers, Everybody!
As a storyteller, a public person in the world, your voice is an important and powerful instrument. Your whole body, your whole being is your voice! This workshop will give you a toolbox of warm-ups and exercises that will set you on the path to your own sound. Would you like to explore vocal techniques that help keep an audience riveted as you read to them? Would you like to learn how to project your voice powerfully without fatigue or soreness? Would you like to feel freer using your voice? Come prepared to work your breath, move your body, and make noise with Pan Morigan, music director of Chrysalis Theater and award-winning vocalist/songwriter. You absolutely do not have to be a singer or experienced "voice person" to attend! Even experienced singers have to deal with vocal basics every day, and you can do it too. Come play!
Graphic Fantasy Femme Fair
Peruse a world full of fantastic women in graphic novels, webcomics, manga, and more, be they heroines on pages or the ones holding pens and markers. Check out favorites from my collection and bring some from yours to share, compare, discuss, and fall graphically in love with.
Suzanne Rogers Gruber
Resources for Writing Fantasy
Want to write fantasy? This workshop and roundtable discussion is for newer and aspiring writers interested in writing, both those who are actively involved in the writing process, as well as those who might want to write, but haven't yet dared "jump off the cliff" for fear of what it might be like. The first half of the presentation will offer resources and support, and in the second half, we’ll discuss struggles and successes.
Creating Proposals and Compendium Submissions for Sirens
Sirens Staff and Vetting Board
Are you thinking of submitting a program item for next year? Want tips on how to prepare your ideas for consideration by the vetting board? We’ll cover abstract formats for papers, panels, workshops, afternoon classes, and roundtable discussions. Also, your talk, paper, workshop, or roundtable discussion can become part of a published book: every two to three years, Sirens produces a compendium of presentations. We will discuss formatting issues, editing, bibliographic citation and why it matters, and some differences between writing for oral delivery and writing for print. The presentation will be very informal; attendees are welcome to drop in for a few minutes to ask a quick question or to use the time for group brainstorming.
Cora Anderson has been an avid reader of everything she could get her hands on for as long as she can remember. She is especially fond of fantasy and young adult literature, both prose and manga. Cora has a history degree from the University of Southern California, and currently lives in Seattle, Washington, where she works as a technical writer. When not working, writing, or reading, Cora enjoys cooking, playing video games, and exploring Seattle.
Kate Elliott is the author of numerous works of fantasy and science fiction. Her most recent Spiritwalker Trilogy (Cold Magic, Cold Fire, and Cold Steel) is an Afro-Celtic post-Roman icepunk Regency adventure fantasy with airships, sharks, and lawyer dinosaurs. In her spare time, she paddles outrigger canoes.
Sharon K. Goetz works for a print-and-digital project that creates critical editions. Too fond of textuality for her own good, she has written software manuals, taught college writing courses, and completed a PhD investigating medieval English chronicles amidst their manuscript contexts. She also volunteers as a Strange Horizons copy editor.
Joy Kim works as a public librarian in Washington state. An active member of the Young Adult Library Services Association, she has chaired YALSA’s William C. Morris YA Debut Award and Great Graphic Novels for Teens committees. She also reviews children’s and teen books for Kirkus Reviews, and even occasionally finds time to read for fun. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, running, and watching ridiculous Korean television shows.
Candice Lindstrom is an editorial assistant for a business magazine publisher covering women, LGBT, and minority enterprises. She also edits YA and adult fiction for a paranormal publisher. When not reading for work, she’s reading for pleasure in almost any genre, but SFF is her first love.
Lacey Skorepa is a fairy tale fanatic. No, she is not addicted to stories of white knights, princesses, and happily ever after(s). Her interest in fairy tales comes from a more sinister place; a place where birds pluck out eyes, where roses bloom with violent thorns, and where inversions become societal subversions. She has presented papers at several conferences, most recently at the 2013 ICFA conference where she presented the paper “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Who’s the Most Feminist of Them All?” Lacey is working toward a PhD in English literature at Wayne State University, with a concentration in fairy tales and feminist theory. She earned her MA at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where she studied English literature with a concentration in fairy tales and children’s literature, and she graduated from Western Illinois University in 2011 with a BA in English literature and philosophy.
Bridget Smith is an associate agent at Dunham Literary, Inc., where she represents middle grade, YA, and adult novels, with special interest in fantasy and science fiction, historical fiction, and women’s fiction. She also reads slush for Tor.com. She has studied anthropology and archaeology, worked as a radio DJ, performed an experiment at NASA, and fenced on her college team.
An honors graduate of the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, Hallie Tibbetts (programming coordinator) taught K-8 music and reading before pursuing new adventures. She has worked in a variety of media, social work, education, event planning, and administrative positions. She graduated from the Denver Publishing Institute in summer 2010 and was most recently an editor for young adult and middle grade books. Hallie has been involved with Narrate Conferences and all of its events since its inception in 2006, serving variously as education officer, communications officer, and vice president, along with chairing a number of conferences. She’s studying digital and print media at New York University.
Miriam Weinberg is an Assistant Editor at Tor. She has worked with several editors, including Hugo-award winning editors Liz Gorinsky and Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and is now busily working to build her own list.
2014 Call for Proposals
CALL FOR PROPOSALS: Sirens
October 16–19, 2014
A conference on women in fantasy literature presented by Narrate Conferences, Inc.
Sirens, a conference focused on literary contributions by women to the fantasy genre and on fantasy works with prominent female characters, will take place October 16–19, 2014, in Stevenson, Washington, near Portland, Oregon. The conference seeks papers, panels, interactive workshops, roundtable discussions, and other presentations suitable for an audience of academics, professionals, educators, librarians, authors, and fantasy readers.
The theme for 2014 is “hauntings” and presenters are invited to consider what it means to be haunted in fantasy literature. Proposals that address women in fantasy literature, such as specific aspects of a work or series, works related by other themes, and studies of the fantasy genre across all disciplines are encouraged as well. A non-exhaustive list of sample topics includes literary analyses of novels; studies of genre history; use of fantasy works in schools and libraries for education; examination of related business and legal issues; media and fan studies; craft-based workshops in writing, art, and publishing; and overviews of how fantasy works fit into larger contexts.
Presentation submission to the vetting board is by online system only. No other format or contact will be considered. The online submission system is located at <http://www.sirensconference.org/submissions/>.
The deadline for proposals is May 12, 2014, and notices regarding proposals will be sent no later than June 9, 2014. Those requiring an early decision in order to obtain travel funding from their institutions should contact the programming coordinator at (programming at sirensconference.org).
At the time of proposal submission, presenters must provide an abstract of 300–500 words, a 50–100 word presentation summary for publication, and a presenter biography of no more than 100 words. Those wishing to submit a proposal for an interactive roundtable discussion may submit a brief explanation of a topic and a list of 10–15 sample discussion questions in lieu of a formal abstract; workshop proposals may be formatted as lesson plans. Afternoon classesinteractive demonstrations of interest to fantasy readers that may be less formally related to the thememay also be presented as lesson plans. Presenters must be available to attend the conference in its entirety; no partial or day registrations will be offered.
Conference papers will be collected for publication at a later date. Presenters must be registered for the conference no later than July 6, 2014. For more information about programming, the review process, suggested timing and structure of presentations, audio-visual availability, and proposal submissions, please see the Sirens website at <http://www.sirensconference.org/programming/>. Questions specifically about programming may be directed to (programming at sirensconference.org), and general conference inquiries may be sent to (help at sirensconference.org).
Sirens is a presentation of Narrate Conferences, Inc., a 501(c)(3) charitable organization with the mission of organizing academic, literary, and exploratory educational conferences that address themes of interest to scholars, educators, students, professionals, and readers. For inquiries about Narrate Conferences, Inc., please write to (info at narrateconferences.org).
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