Archive for 2015

Sirens Accepted Programming for 2015: Afternoon Classes

By Hallie Tibbetts (@hallietibbetts)

Afternoon classes provide ways to explore fantasy beyond literature. If you want to try something new and exciting, an afternoon class might be just right.

Afternoon classes cover topics related to fantasy literature and the activities of its characters. These tend to be heavily demonstration-based and interactive! You may be required to sign a liability waiver to be in the room during some physical sessions.

Follow this link to find out about the presenters and what they’ll be talking about in these presentations:

Fan Girls: The Art of Fan Language

No Key, No Problem

Sirens Cipher: Building a Secret Conference Code

And one more item that will be offered in the afternoon, just for people who’d like to find out more about how to present in the future, or how to make a presentation proposal stronger:

Creating Proposals and Compendium Submissions for Sirens

If you would like to support both Sirens and our presenters, we invite you to sponsor these (and other) presentations. The cost is $35 per presentation, and we will include your name next to your chosen topic on the accepted programming page. We’ll also list your sponsorship in our program book for this year’s event if we receive your sponsorship by August 21, 2015.


Sirens Support

When we created Sirens, we created something different: something smart, something friendly, something communal. A place where people feel welcome to both speak and listen, where people respect others and their differing opinions, and that, to many people, now feels like home.

In order to foster that community, we include elements in Sirens, such as our Thursday afternoon tea and our keynote addresses, that bring all attendees together. Those elements raise the cost of presenting Sirens significantly, and challenge our commitment to keeping the cost of attendance as low as possible for all attendees. As a result, we run an unusual budget structure: the costs of presenting Sirens far exceed our registration revenue.

We’d like to talk for a moment about how Sirens makes up that gap, and how you can help. Each year, Sirens raises in excess of $10,000 in monetary donations, auction proceeds, and bookstore revenue. Each of those is vital to the continued success—and availability—of Sirens, and each of those depends on the support of the Sirens community. We hope that you’ll consider supporting Sirens this year in one of the following ways.


Monetary Donations

Each year, thousands of dollars of the costs of presenting Sirens are offset by monetary donations—and it’s worth noting that none of our staff receive a dime (or a free registration or hotel room) in exchange for their work on Sirens. All monetary donations go straight toward the elements of Sirens that provide immediate value for attendees: catering, t-shirts, registration bags, audiovisual equipment, dance floor rental, and so forth.

We are always thrilled to take donations in any amount. Many of our monetary donations come in from our staff, but we also receive donations from attendees, friends and family of attendees, and from strangers who believe in our mission of supporting the remarkable women of fantasy literature. For those of you particularly interested in programming, you can sponsor individual presentations, and in doing so, support particular presenters or the inclusion of particular topics. For those of you particularly interested in other elements of Sirens, we’re always happy to discuss sponsorship of other programming and events.

If you’d like to make a donation, please visit our donations page.

If you’d like to sponsor a programming presentation, please visit our accepted programming page.

If you’d like to discuss a different sponsorship or donation, please email us at (donate at



Quilt-NoSignatures AuctionPile-3

The Sirens auction has become an unexpected source of a significant amount of revenue in recent years, and one that we especially love: while raising money for Sirens, we’re also providing attendees the opportunity to obtain amazing items and services. Our auction includes both a silent component, culminating at our Insurgents’ Ball, and a live component, which provides an always-raucous element to our final breakfast.

All items in our auction are donated by individuals: Sirens staff, Sirens attendees, and other Sirens supporters. These items are frequently fun, sometimes one-of-a-kind, occasionally startling, and often a terrific deal on professional services. We’ve featured everything from unique articles such as t-shirts, pillows, journals, and jewelry; to professional services such as manuscript editorial letters to synopsis drafting; to art pieces such as custom digital artwork, character naming rights for upcoming books, and original watercolors. The sky’s the limit, and if you are interested in donating an item or two for our auction, please email us at (donate at


Narrate Bookstore

BookstoreThursNight-5 BookstoreThursNight-1

A few years ago, Narrate Conferences, Inc., the presenting 501(c)(3) charitable organization behind Sirens, began operating the Sirens bookstore as a fundraiser. This gives us the opportunity, in many ways in defiance of the commercial market, to stock our bookstore exclusively with fantasy books written by, or featuring, amazing women. But more than that, this gives us the opportunity to fill a bookstore with books that we—and the Sirens community—love.

In many ways, our bookstore operates like any other bookstore: we acquire new books for sale just like anyone else. But in two ways, our bookstore is different. First, we frequently have attendees donate new books, just to make sure that the bookstore includes them in its inventory; sometimes these attendees work for publishers, but more often, these attendees are simply Sirens supporters who want to make our bookstore as amazing as possible. Second, we have a used section of our bookstore where we offer gently used fantasy books for $5 each. That section of our bookstore is stocked entirely through donations.

If you would like to donate books to our bookstore, please send your books to this address, to arrive no later than September 19, 2015. (And remember, if you’re shipping only books, the USPS media mail option is terrifically cheap, but terrifically slow, so please leave time for your package to arrive.)

c/o Narrate Conferences
P.O. Box 149
Sedalia, CO 80135


Tax Deductions

Narrate Conferences, Inc., the presenting organization behind Sirens, is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Therefore, all donations to Sirens are eligible for tax deduction in accordance with U.S. law.

Regardless of whether you are able to support us financially or with in-kind donations or not, and if you do donate, regardless of the type or amount of your donation, we thank you for your support of Sirens. This community means the world to us, and we’re both honored and humbled to say that we’re presenting our seventh year of Sirens less than two months from now.


Six Secondary World Urban Fantasies

By Casey Blair (@CaseyLBlair)

Secondary world urban fantasy is not precisely a new subgenre, but it’s one that has been growing in popularity in recent years. This delights me, because the secondary world urban fantasy (henceforth referred to as SWUF for the sake of brevity and odd acronyms) I’ve read has consistently challenged my notions of what fantasy as a genre can do while being sheer fun. SWUF, for me, is where a lot of the most interesting work and stories are emerging right now in fantasy.

But what is SWUF? Genre definitions are tricky and never fixed, and in this one we have two essential parts: the “secondary world” and the “urban fantasy.” “Secondary world” is a term coined by Tolkien in his essay “On Fairy-Stories” to refer to a world that is not our world, but is internally consistent and fictional. (Most of what we call high fantasy or epic fantasy falls under this umbrella.) As for “urban fantasy,” when it comes to SWUF I mean this in the classic sense, where the city itself is such a strong presence in the story it’s practically a character in and of itself.

So without further ado, these are six SWUF books or series that keep me turning pages, that are pushing genre boundaries, and that leave me reeling with a sense of wonder and inspiration.


ThreePartsDead 1. Three Parts Dead (The Craft Sequence), Max Gladstone
I must begin with Three Parts Dead, because I do not possess sufficient eloquence to convey all of the things I love about this book and the installments that follow. Each book in the series is set in a different city with a different real-world inspiration: Two Serpents Rise draws on Aztec mythology and Full Fathom Five on Polynesian. They tackle fantasy versions of issues like the financial crisis and water rights through familiar but subverted tropes like god wars, magical craftsmen, and power armor. There are dense theoretical and academic arguments and explosive, numinous magical battles. Each follows different point-of-view characters: all are well-drawn with satisfying arcs, and the casts are diverse and inclusive of different races, genders, and sexualities. In short, this book and its series are filled with awesome, and you should check Three Parts Dead out as soon as possible.
CastinShadow 2. Cast in Shadow (Chronicles of Elantra), Michelle Sagara (also known as Michelle West)
I started reading the ongoing Chronicles of Elantra years before I had any idea what it was. In some ways, this follows the contemporary urban fantasy narrative structure of a female protagonist investigating magical crimes, but the similarity basically ends there. Our protagonist Kaylin Neya is a police officer charged with upholding the law in the capital city of an empire that is a dragon’s hoard. But there is more magic in this world than even the experts understand, and it’s grouchy yet compassionate Kaylin’s job to resolve not just magical calamities, but also disputes between the different non-human races that are attempting, unprecedentedly, to live together instead of killing each other.
Swordspoint 3. Swordspoint (The World of Swordspoint), Ellen Kushner
Given that negotiation of traditions among fantastic cultures, I naturally segue into Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint, one of three books set in a world sometimes referred to as Riverside (though this not the name of the city itself). Swordspoint is also called a “fantasy of manners,” which I find apt. The unnamed city captures the same feeling I get visiting a city like London or New Orleans for the first time—not the same feel of those particular cities, but the same sensation of vibrancy and life and gilded shadows. As the protagonists grapple with expectations of class, gender, and sexuality—and dueling, naturally—Kushner’s wit is scathing. For me, the gems in these books are so often in the spaces between her words, in what she chooses not to say. If you prefer young adult books, The Privilege of the Sword is another novel set in this world that functions as a stand-alone.
TheGoblinEmperor 4. The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (also known as Sarah Monette)
The Goblin Emperor is also arguably a fantasy of manners with all of its court intrigue, and in this novel it’s not so much that the whole city is the setting, but the palace is like a city in and of itself. In many ways Addison is flipping the archetypal hero’s journey on its head: our protagonist Maia doesn’t go on a quest; rather, becoming emperor means that he Maia is effectively trapped at court. This is an ethical character navigating a world full of metaphorical and literal daggers and trying to learn how to make a home, how to build bridges, and how to choose compassion in a world that values force. This is the most gorgeous and breath-taking stand-alone that I’ve ever read.
TheKillingMoon 5. The Killing Moon (The Dreamblood duology), N. K. Jemisin
Jemisin is best-known for the Inheritance trilogy, but I think this duology—in particular the second installment, The Shadowed Sun—break a lot of new ground. The political machinations and undercurrents in the city were as complex and fascinating as I’ve come to expect from her writing, and I love that she consistently challenges racial constructs and the definition of what it means to be a woman. However, it was the magic of the first book that compelled me to pick up the second, and it was the second that broke my brain. Her magic system blends Egyptian mythology, medicine, psychoanalysis, and especially dreams. The magic, world, characters, and their struggles are immersive and lyrical and nuanced and utterly riveting.
CityofStairs 6. City of Stairs, Robert Jackson Bennett
Last but certainly not least is City of Stairs, a novel that will be followed with a sequel, City of Blades, in January of 2016. City of Stairs is set in the conquered city of Bulikov, where once the gods wielded their power to conquer the world, and is now ruled by the Saypuri Empire that overthrew those gods. It’s a shattered city, a shadow of its former glory, caught and broken between this new secular world and the traditions it held inviolable if not dear. Our protagonist Shara Thivani, a highly accomplished spy masquerading as a diplomat, arrives to get to the bottom of a murder and ends up unraveling threads of history and empire and theology all tied together in an explosive knot. It’s a rollicking adventure that periodically gut-punches the reader with the poignancy of its matter.

There are many more SWUF books out there, and it’s a subgenre that is growing rapidly. While I am happy to have many more on my inexhaustible reading list, these are my current favorites to get you started.

Sirens Accepted Programming for 2015: Panels

By Hallie Tibbetts (@hallietibbetts)

Have you seen the panels that will be presented at Sirens in October?

Panels feature several speakers discussing a topic before an audience. Panels may take questions or discussion from the audience, but are not required to do so. Typically, a panel will be focused on discussion among the speakers, who might have something in common, who might have very different perspectives on a topic, or who might conduct a debate. Panels allow you to hear several perspectives without leaving your seat!

Follow this link to find out about the presenters and what they’ll be talking about in these presentations:

Generation K

The Great Big Interfaith Dialogue

The Iconoclastic Revolutionary

Mother of the Revolution: Self-Actualization as a Form of Rebellion

Women of the Revolution: Changing Genre and the World

Women of War: Trauma and Healing in Speculative Fiction

Writing the Fantastic: Insurrection, Intersection, and Evolution

If you would like to support both Sirens and our presenters, we invite you to sponsor these (and other) presentations. The cost is $35 per presentation, and we will include your name next to your chosen topic on the accepted programming page. We’ll also list your sponsorship in our program book for this year’s event if we receive your sponsorship by August 21, 2015.


Sirens Newsletter – Volume 7, Issue 10 (August 2015)

In this issue:



Kate Elliott Yoon Ha Lee

We recently posted Sirens interviews with two of our guests of honor for 2015: Kate Elliott and Yoon Ha Lee, and they’ve got some fascinating things to say about reading, writing, and women in fantasy. Coming soon, we’ll interview our third guest of honor, Rae Carson, as well!


The deadline to register for Sirens is fast approaching. If you haven’t purchased your registration yet, please make sure to do so before registration closes on September 12. After that, you must register at the door at an increased price. If you have any questions, please contact us at (registration at


Tickets for the Sirens Shuttle, Sirens Supper, and Sirens Studio are still available. The Sirens Shuttle offers discounted group transportation to and from Denver International Airport, for you and any friends or family who’d like a ride too. The Sirens Supper is our annual pre-conference dinner, and a great way to kick off the conference. Finally, our new offering, the Sirens Studio, features two days of workshop intensives (for readers, writers, and professionals), discussion, networking opportunities, and flexible time for you to use however you wish. If you’d like to join us for some—or all—of these, tickers can be added to a registration until registration closes on September 12 . Tickets for these events are unlikely to be available at the door.


Don’t forget to make reservations to stay with us at the Inverness Hotel in the south Denver metro area. Rooms are filling up quickly, especially for the Sirens Studio days (and nights)! If you’re seeking roommates, let us know on Twitter so we can retweet your search, or make a post on Facebook or our website message boards. If you have any issues making a reservation and getting the Sirens discount rate, please do let us know at (help at; if we can help, we certainly will. Read more about why staying at the hotel helps us and why you will want to stay at the Inverness.


You can see the presentations we’ve accepted from Sirens attendees on the accepted programming page. (The schedule is undergoing proofreading as you read this!) If you see a presentation you love, consider sponsoring the presentation under your name or on behalf of a group! Presentation sponsorships cost only $35, and the proceeds go entirely to Sirens’ expenses. We appreciate your donations, and if you sponsor a presentation by August 21, we’ll be able to list your donation not just on the website, but in the printed program book that all attendees receive.


Would you like to help out during Sirens? Volunteer shifts vary in length and responsibilities, but most volunteer shifts are during programming and allow you to attend presentations; you might help people find seats, turn microphones on or off, give presenters their five-minute warnings that time is up, and gather lost and found items. See the volunteers page on our website for more details. If you’re a returning volunteer, you don’t need to fill out the form—just keep an eye out for email from the Google Group. We’ll be sending information about available volunteer shifts to group members. Thank you!




Come read with us! Sirens co-founder Amy leads the Sirens Book Club each month. August’s book is In Great Waters by Kit Whitfield. Join the discussion here on Goodreads.



Books for Friday’s Books and Breakfast and Saturday’s Books and Breakfast have been announced.

Sherwood Smith: Influential Fantasy for Heroines

Hallie Tibbetts: Sirens Accepted Programming for 2015: Papers

June Recap: Sirens News, Book Releases, and Interesting Links has become its very own special feature, with links, book releases, and more. We’ve rounded up June, and July is on its way…

Yoon Ha Lee: Six Fantasy Works for Sirens

Shveta Thakrar: Seven Fantasy Books Featuring Non-Western Mythology and Folklore

Kate Elliott: Five Fabulous Epic Fantasy Works by Women

Hallie Tibbetts: Six Fantasy Books with Non-US Settings

Testimonials and a Love Letter


Questions? Concerns? Please email general queries to (help at and questions about programming to (programming at


Influential Fantasy for Heroines

By Sherwood Smith (@sherwood_smith)

Originally published at Book View Café

Okay, so I’m old, and have been reading a long time. People sometimes ask, What fantasies were you reading before… [before Harry Potter, before The Hunger Games, before whatever-is-popular now]. This discussion sometimes evolves into influence, and popular tropes.

This is especially true when people ask what fantasies do I think have been influential for today’s readers? Sometimes that influence seems obvious—Terry Brooks had clearly read Lord of the Rings before he wrote Sword of Shanarra—but not always. I believe that literature is in constant conversation with itself, and that conversation changes as we age and a new generation of readers comes up.

As that literary conversation ricochets back and forth, it’s interesting to see what patterns become an accepted part of the framework of tales—and then change. For example, after JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings first became popular in the mid-sixties, during the seventies, when fantasy was on its enormous rise, it seemed that every fantasy had to feature the good guys off a vaguely European map to the west, evil guys to the east, and ugly and evil orcs versus super-pretty (pointy-eared) elves. Terry Brooks leading the pack.

The discussion of influence sometimes turns too quickly into pejoratives. This is not new. The term “Tol-clones” has been around since the days when Lester del Rey enthusiastically marketed Sword of Shannara, though I have met young readers who (this is before Peter Jackson’s films) were astonished to hear Terry Brooks, or David Eddings, just to name two, called Tol-clones. These authors might have been their first encounter with fantasy, and their stories read fresh and new to them. Of these, some tried Lord of the Rings just to disparage it as old-fashioned and fusty.

The era of “Tol-clones” seems to have passed. Of late I’ve heard complaints about fantasy going to grimdark rape-fests, which is about as far away from Tolkien’s ethos as one can get, and also about fantastical or superficially science-fictional dystopias (the sciences being as rubbery as the world building). These latter are constructed around an evil government that for murky but story-compelling reasons forbids teens to do X, forcing young people either into the coliseum as blood sport or requiring them to submit to some dire law X as our doughty heroine discovers her special powers and angsts her way between the good bad boy and the bad bad boy.

Much as all these stories have been scorned as commercially motivated pablum, I think there’s something interesting about what tropes become so popular that for a while they seem standard. I think they say something interesting about our cultural development, as our government, whatever else you think about it, is not forcing people to buy and read these books.

One of the aspects that I wanted to touch on today was the evolution of the heroine. Even the heroine and her bad boys (who have become so common they are satirized, as in this example above and to the right here) demonstrate something: we’re seeing females not just gaining agency, but assuming it as part of their birthright.

Even when angsting all over the landscape about her bad boys, today’s heroine has come a long way from her foremother who was relegated to waiting passively for a suitable hero to choose her for her purity and beauty.

So. I picked four novels whose elements I think have ramified out through fantasy, and which I think have been especially influential for female readers and writers. The first two masqueraded as sort of science fiction, but the fantasy elements were very strong.


WitchWorld The first is Andre Norton’s Witch World. It came out first in 1963. I read it as a junior high student—and reread it several times, checking that same well-thumbed copy out from the library.

Like all Norton’s early work, the main characters were men, and Norton wrote under a seeming male name, but her heroines became increasingly more prominent as they gained more agency, their powers usually defined by telepathy. Norton was the first that I was aware of who mixed medieval elements with science fiction, and explored shapeshifters as well as telepathic impressment, which gave her heroines more agency though they had little physical strength.

I don’t know how these books read to the under thirty crowd—too often when I bring up Norton’s name I either get “Who?” or “I’ve heard of her, but haven’t read anything by her.” She still has stalwart fans who might be graying, but reread these books faithfully.

Dragonflight Like many later writers, Anne McCaffrey, in her Dragonflight, picked up on the impressment and telepathy theme, tying it to dragons in her mix of sf and fantasy elements set in the world of Pern.

This book has undergone an interesting evolution over the decades, specifically with the question of non-consensual sex: when the dragons mate, their riders are drawn into the experience with one another. For Lessa, the heroine, this was her first introduction to sex—and she had no idea what was happening.

As I recall, no one talked about this aspect back in the seventies. We were so used to books that required “good” heroines to be virgins without sexual feelings (the anguish of attraction was okay as they waited for the hero to discover their worth)—in so much literature women were regarded as objects, but all the sexual feelings were reserved for men. For many young female readers in the seventies, it seemed stunning that Lessa actually enjoyed the experience—and was not afterward discarded, but held her position and respect. It was guilt-free sex, because she hadn’t chosen it, which was a trope often found in romances at that time.

For fantasy, at least in my experience as a reader who talked to other women about reading, Dragonflight was a real game-changer. And it was another real eye-opener when younger women during the past decade or two read it and were squicked out by the heroine’s lack of choice! Attitudes toward heroines’ agency had completely changed, heroines choosing partners rather than waiting with maidenly modesty to be chosen.

ThePerilousGard Elizabeth Marie Pope: The Perilous Gard.

This one came out in the mid-seventies, and it still reads really well today, I think. The Tudor culture is beautifully rendered, the prose excellent, the characters complex.

It had a tremendous influence on young writers who afterward reflected Pope’s version of the Sidhe, and how they could not create, but only could glamour. Pope’s doctoral work had been done in literature and philosophy of that period, but during conversation once she told me that this book was influenced by Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles. The heroine has great moral agency, using her wits to outsmart a compelling (female) adversary.

TheBlueSword Finally there is Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword, which, printed in 1982, is the most modern of the set.

I think of this one as pivotal: it shows the influence of these earlier novels in the telepathy and powers, and also Georgette Heyer’s influence, but it strikes out in new directions. At least I see McKinley’s Harry was the first kickass heroine, who not only gains powers but trains in the art of the sword, becoming a formidable fighter.

It’s surprising how many people I have spoken to who list this as one of their top comfort reads, and I believe it holds up well with younger readers—at least so far, I haven’t heard it take any hits in the way that McCaffrey’s Pern novels have.


Sirens Accepted Programming for 2015: Papers

By Hallie Tibbetts (@hallietibbetts)

I’m pleased to point you toward the papers, lectures, and similar presentations that have been accepted for this year.

Papers and lectures feature one or more presenters talking about a topic. Some speakers may give more formal readings of scholarly papers, with or without time for questions at the end; others may give relatively informal lectures with more audience participation. They’ll analyze, compare, and consider. They’ll present research. And they’ll give you their thoughts for pondering.

After a couple of years with fewer papers submitted for consideration, I’m pleased to see renewed interest from presenters. I hope that if you’re attending Sirens, you’ll make time to try a paper, lecture, or presentation—or two! Follow this link to find out about the presenters and what they’ll be talking about in these presentations:

“All the Queen’s Women”: Female Political Leadership in Marchetta’s Lumatere Chronicles

Confessions of a Pro Book Buyer

Hermione Granger: Student Revolutionary or Dumbledore’s Enforcer?

Lumberjanes: Comics for Hardcore Lady Types

The Pen Is the Sword: Sara Estela Ramírez, the Revolutionary as Poet

The Princess and the Picture Book

The Revolutionist’s Handbook: Deploying Your Dragons, Sorceresses, Spies, and Economists

Warriors, Philosophers, and Queens: Legendary Women throughout History

If you would like to support both Sirens and our presenters, we invite you to sponsor these (and other) presentations. The cost is $35 per presentation, and we will include your name next to your chosen topic on the accepted programming page. We’ll also list your sponsorship in our program book for this year’s event if we receive your sponsorship by August 21, 2015.


June Recap: Sirens News, Book Releases, and Interesting Links

We’re excited to bring you a roundup of interesting links, June book releases of fantasy by and about women, and a quick review of Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Look for this ever-expanding collection of good news to come to you mid-month in the future.

As always, we’d love to hear from you. If you’ve sold a fantasy work, read a great recently-released story, discovered a fantastic link that we missed, or if you’ve got a book or story review to share, please get in touch. Send news to (help at, and see the Sirens Review Squad section below for how to become a reviewer.



Sirens Newsletter – Volume 7, Issue 8 (June 2015)

Testimonials: Why did you decide to attend Sirens the first time?

Five Amazing Science Fiction/Fantasy Works for Fantasy Readers Who Struggle with Science Fiction

Testimonials: Why do you think Sirens is important?

10 Fantasy Books with Lovely, Lyrical Prose

Sirens Auction and Bookstore

Nine Books with Dragons!

Inverness Hotel: It’s Where You Want to Be



Interesting Links:


Book Releases:


Click each image for a closer look at the covers.

May 26:
The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories: 75th Anniversary Edition, Angela Carter, introduction by Kelly Link

June 1:
Girl at the Bottom of the Sea, Michelle Tea
Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology, ed. Ann VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer

June 2:
Because You’ll Never Meet Me, Leah Thomas
Briar Queen, Katherine Harbour
Children of the Earth, Anna Schumacher
Circus Mirandus, Cassie Beasley
Deadly Design, Debra Dockter
Descent, Tara Fuller
The Dragons of Heaven, Alyc Helms
The Edge of Forever, Melissa E. Hurst
Fandemic, Jennifer Estep
From a High Tower, Mercedes Lackey
Hidden Huntress, Danielle L. Jensen
The Hidden Prince, Jodi Meadows
The Master Magician, Charlie N. Holmberg
Powerless, Tera Lynn Childs and Tracy Deebs
The Shadow Revolution, Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith
Saving Her Destiny, Candice Gilmer
Shards of Hope, Nalini Singh
Siren’s Fury, Mary Weber
Spelled, Betsy Schow
Stories of the Raksura: The Dead City and The Dark Earth Below, Martha Wells
The Summer of Chasing Mermaids, Sarah Ockler
The Witch Hunter, Virginia Boecker

June 4:
The Changeling, Helen Falconer

June 9:
Alive, Chandler Baker
The Clockwork Crown, Beth Cato
Crash, Eve Silver
Dead Ice, Laurell K. Hamilton
The Invasion of the Tearling, Erika Johansen
The Mechanical Theater, Brooke Johnson
The Stars Never Rise, Rachel Vincent
Waking the Dragon, Juliette Cross

June 10:
Waters of Versailles, Kelly Robson

June 15:
Almost Magic, Kathleen Bullock

June 16:
Glittering Shadows, Jaclyn Dolamore
Pure Blooded, Amanda Carlson

June 23:
The Blood Curse, Emily Gee
The Book of Speculation, Erika Swyler
A Book of Spirits and Thieves, Morgan Rhodes
The Leveller, Julia Durango
Trailer Park Fae, Lilith Saintcrow
The Wand and the Sea, Clare M. Caterer

June 25:
The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2015, ed. Paula Guran

June 30:
Of Enemies and Endings, Shelby Bach
The Fire Children, Lauren M. Roy
Heat of the Moment, Lori Handeland
The Hollow Queen, Elizabeth Haydon
The Philosopher Kings, Jo Walton
The Princess and the Pony, Kate Beaton
Shadowshaper, Daniel José Older
The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror & Goliath, Ishbelle Bee
Soul Scorched, Donna Grant
Storm, Amanda Sun
Supervillains Anonymous, Lexie Dunne



We’d love to have more volunteers contribute short reviews of works they have read and loved. If you think you could contribute a book (or short story, or a work related to fantasy literature) review of at least 250 words sometime during the next year, we would be pleased—nay, thrilled—to have your recommendation for the Sirens newsletter.

Review squad volunteering is flexible; we simply ask that you share information about work you’ve enjoyed. (We are, of course, focused on fantasy books by and about women, and we hope you’ll consider interesting, diverse selections; if you’re not sure about a particular work, email help at and we’ll advise!) You can contribute once or on an ongoing basis, and on a schedule that works for you. Please visit the volunteer system and, when we ask you what position you’re interested in, type in “Book Reviewer.”

SignaltoNoiseSignal to Noise
Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Meche, Sebastian, and Daniela are struggling with their social status in high school in Mexico City in 1988. Meche, fluent in the language of music (one of the few things she has in common with her father), makes a startling discovery: she can use music to harm a bully. The manifestation of magic is something she shares with her grandmother, but their communication is too strained for Meche to learn from her. Meche realizes that she can feel magic’s power in vinyl, and that with Sebastian and Daniela’s (sometimes reluctant) help, she can make their wishes come true—only, not all of their wishes are for good, and the magic could tear her friendships apart.

Interspersed with the scenes of 1988 are scenes of Meche’s return to the city in 2009 after a long absence. She has come to mourn her father, not to mend old wounds. Still, she can’t escape the evidence of her past, and all of the feelings and memories that come with having once had a taste of magic.

While music is an important theme in Signal to Noise, I am fascinated by the oft-ignored theme of magic with consequences. Here, magic complicates what is already complicated, and its potential for destruction is neither academic nor remote; instead, its dangers are highly personal. I particularly want to chew on the idea of failure, too—failure to reach across generations and friendship fault lines, and what happens when people fail to pass on important information, leaving the followers to draw conclusions that aren’t always kind, or true, or fully understood. Failure to see the outcome of actions. Failure to find self-realization. Still, all of the failures lead to bittersweet reckoning.

If none of this hooks you, consider Signal to Noise for Meche, its angry, flawed heroine. She’s a character you’ll want to both comfort and unravel. –Undusty New Books


Six Fantasy Works for Sirens

By Yoon Ha Lee (@motomaratai)


GodStalk 1. God Stalk, P.C. Hodgell
This is the first novel of the Kencyrath books, which concern a people who have been fighting a losing battle against an ancient entropic foe called Perimal Darkling ever since their leader betrayed them in exchange for a cold creeping immortality. Ages later, a darkling named Jame escapes from captivity with only shreds of her memory intact, and powers that suggest that she may be part of a prophesied trinity destined either to destroy or revive her people. Jame is both a trouble-magnet (as befits someone who is almost certainly an avatar of Destruction) and a fully-protagging protagonist. Nothing stays the same in her wake—sometimes for good, sometimes less so. My first encounter with this series was actually through the short story “Stranger Blood,” in which Jame appears, and which I found in Imaginary Lands, ed. Robin McKinley; it’s since been reprinted in the collection Blood and Ivory: A Tapestry.
TheGoddessChronicle 2. The Goddess Chronicle, Natsuo Kirino
A retelling of the Japanese origin myths from a feminist viewpoint, as a young woman struggles, with the aid of the goddess Izanami, to find out why she was betrayed by her lover. Lush and dark.
Uprooted 3. Uprooted, Naomi Novik
A village girl named Agnieszka is chosen by a local sorcerer called the Dragon to serve him in his tower. Her contest of wills with him leads eventually to the uncovering of a conspiracy against the kingdom, and the revelation of an ages-old grievance. Many notable portrayals of women, from Agnieszka herself to her best friend to a sorcrerer-smith to the wood-queen who is the antagonist.
DragonsofAutumnTwilight 4. The Dragonlance Chronicles: Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Dragons of Winter Night, and Dragons of Spring Dawning, Margaret Weis (with Tracy Hickman)
These books were terrifically popular when I was in middle school. I loved the fact that they featured strong female characters—from Tika the barmaid who leveled up to fighter (hitting people over the head with a frying pan!) to Lauralanthalasa the spoiled elvish princess who grew up to become a general and knocked the hidebound Solamnian Knights out of self-destruction and my favorite, the shamelessly sensual Kitiara and the dragon who was her companion. They are not by any means high literature, but as adventures they were a lot of fun, and I learned a lot from them.
Claymore 5. Claymore (manga series), Norihiro Yagi
The mangaka is male; the manga itself concerns an order of female half-demon demon-killers called Claymores. The relationships between the women and their rebelling against the Organization that controls them, as well as against the dark powers that control the island where they live, make for a gripping read, with lots of action.
AngelSanctuary 6. Angel Sanctuary (manga series), Kaori Yuki
Manga about a Japanese teenage boy in love with his younger sister, but as it turns out, his problems are only beginning: he discovers that he’s the reincarnation of the (female) angel Alexiel, who is condemned to live wretched lives as a human for rebelling against a corrupt Heaven, and his only way out is to take up the fight again.


Sirens Guest of Honor Interview: Yoon Ha Lee

We’re pleased to bring you the second in a series of candid, in-depth interviews with this year’s Sirens Guests of Honor. We’ll cover a variety of topics relevant to Sirens with each author, from their inspirations, influences, and craft, to the role of women in fantasy literature and forms of resistance in both the craft and industry, as befits our 2015 focus on rebels and revolutionaries. We hope these conversations will be a prelude to the ones our attendees will be having in Denver this October. Today, Amy Tenbrink interviews Yoon Ha Lee.


AMY: Your published work is primarily short stories and even flash fiction. What draws you to these shorter forms? How do you think working with shorter forms differs from working with longer forms? I’m thinking especially of your skill in creating boundless secondary worlds in only a few pages and terrifically high stakes in only a few words.

Yoon Ha LeeYOON: My original thought writing short stories was due to the conventional wisdom (as far as I understood it when I was in 6th grade reading what were possibly dated how-to-write advice books out of the library) that you should start with the magazines and work your way up to eventually trying to sell novels. What I should have realized was that you learn how to do something by doing it, so that if I wanted to learn how to write a novel, I should have practiced writing novels. (Which, actually, I did, although they were terrible, as you might imagine of anything written by a typical high schooler.)

What I like about short stories is that they are very good if you want to focus on idea or concept. Orson Scott Card has a framework in some book of his on writing on how most stories are primarily about one of MICE—Milieu, Idea, Character, or Event (plot). (I have differences of opinion with Card, but I don’t see why that should prevent me from learning from him; his books on writing are quite good.) At short story length, it’s difficult to go into depth about a character, and there’s only so much plot you can cram in, but science fiction and fantasy especially are very good at allowing you to explore a single idea and its consequences. There might be examples of Milieu stories but I can’t think of them offhand.

You don’t have room to waste in a short story, and even less so in flash fiction, especially flash fiction of, say, 300 words. Part of this is market considerations. Over 7,500 words it rapidly becomes annoying to find homes for stories, so I try to stay below that length, which means efficiency becomes key. If you need to edit a short story down by 200 words, then you trim adverbs. If you need to edit it down by 2,000 words, you have to start killing subplots–editing the structure, not the small fry. (Although the small fry goes too.)

fox-tower-smallMostly, the difference between shorter and longer forms also seems to be in the kinds of structures you can get away with. You have space at novel or novelette length for character development especially, which is something I’m keen on learning to do; you can braid together viewpoints in ways that are hard to pull off at shorter lengths. At the same time, it seems to me that it’s easier to sell more “experimental” forms at shorter length because they can be exhausting to read at longer lengths. My go-to example for this is second person. I love second person—my first sale was a second-person story—but I would not, personally, want to write a novel in it. Certainly it can be done! But I would hesitate to tackle it myself.

I attended Viable Paradise VIII and one of the valuable lessons I received there came from James Macdonald in a lecture on how to suggest a setting. He gave the example of a dollhouse with paths leading all the way up to the edge of the lawn. (Lawn? Garden? It was something like that.) Basically, the metaphor was that if you suggest something outside the actual dollhouse, people will fill it in with their imaginations. You don’t have to describe everything. Just sketch in the outlines and people will do the rest. The key is to pick a couple of vivid details so that the reader has a kind of template for the rest of the setting. For example, if I talk about a garden full of “snow-laced birds,” that’s going to give a different impression than a garden overshadowed by “white birds of cutting mien.” These are terrible examples, but you get the idea.

As for stakes, the weird thing about universe-destroying stakes (not to poke too much fun! I watch Avengers movies too) is that you have to humanize them. My background is in mathematics (BA) so I am familiar with some of the way that human beings just cannot conceptualize numbers in relation to each other without some kind of aid. We are better able to relate to the deaths of three people we know than 3,000 we don’t partly because of the thread of connection, but partly because our brains don’t handle even mildly large numbers. (And, I mean, compared to the kinds of numbers they throw around in cosmology, 3,000 doesn’t rate!) When I want the reader to connect to the stakes, I try to make sure that there’s an actual character involved so that they can see the effects.

AMY: In several interviews in the past few years, you’ve stated that you often build stories as theorems to be proven (A+B=C, so therefore, what is A?) or technical challenges to be overcome (first-person plural, if you please). As a reader with an especial penchant for logic, I’m both utterly fascinated and not a bit surprised: I tend to find that your work comes with a certain logic or even inevitability–even though I don’t usually see it until the end, after my mind has been well and truly blown. Would you talk a bit about how this approach works for you in practice?

YOON: Part of this came about as an unexpected side-effect of majoring in math! And I wasn’t originally a math major; I started out as a history major, then switched into computer science so I wouldn’t starve, then switched into math when I realized math was more fun and I sucked at debugging. History is also a good foundation for writing, but as I said, I wanted to eat. Anyway, many people are under the impression that math is primarily about calculation, but that’s only one small part of math, the application of things like arithmetic or calculus. I was more drawn to pure math, and pure math is about argumentation—proof—rather than sitting there computing things. Some of the other math majors and I would joke that the only numbers we ever saw in our courses were 0, 1, pi, and infinity. (This wasn’t entirely true, but…)

In any case, in a good proof you lay out your axioms, you argue from them, you come to a conclusion, and you try to do this in an elegant and convincing manner. I don’t think this is the lesson that my math professors intended me to take from their classes, but I thought of this as a framework for storytelling. Certainly it is not the only framework for storytelling. It is, in a sense, story as a didactic entity—essay with a thin dressing of narrative. I like reading things with this sort of structure because they’re easier for me to follow, although I should note that I also enjoy very disparate types of fiction, including dreamlike narratives like Patricia McKillip’s novels, or Alan Lightman’s Einstein’s Dreams.

The other reason I came to this method of writing was that for years I did the headstrong and stupid thing of starting stories without knowing where I was going or what they were about, and then coming to a dead halt because I had no idea what I was doing. If the method had worked then that would have been fine, but it became clear that it wasn’t working. Once in a while I’d finish a story; more often I’d end up with another half-written digital corpse. So I switched methods. I decided to switch to a proof-like method of writing, where I wanted to know what the “theorem”—the conclusion or ending—was in advance, and then I would work out what I needed in order to get there.

Please don’t think, from this description, that my writing process itself is neat! I spent a brief period as a high school math teacher, and I think one of the disservices math teachers often do their students is that they don’t show that the process of problem-solving can be messy and involve dead-ends, so that students get discouraged when their efforts aren’t “perfect” from the get-go. Certainly when I was an undergraduate working on problem sets, I would write out pages and pages of dead ends and go around in circles and copy out lemmas until I finally got the key insight I needed. Then I would rewrite the results into something comprehensible to the T.A. For me, writing is much the same. When I am in the early stages of a project, I thrash around and I half-write a bunch of openings and throw them out and whine to my husband (my husband puts up with an awful lot of whining) and beg him to plot-doctor my incoherent notes based on a set of conflicting desiderata. And after all that, a story emerges. The end product sometimes looks neat, but the process by which I got there—anything but.

As for technical challenges, I have something of an adversarial mindset, which got me into trouble when I was a student. If you tell me that something should not be done in such-and-such a way, then I want to know why, and I am apt to try it for myself to find out why the hard way. I believe strongly that sometimes the only way to learn to fly is to throw yourself off some cliffs until you figure it out. This doesn’t work in real life (well, unless you’re a bird maybe, which I am not), but in writing, you have nothing to lose. You don’t die if the story fails to work. At worst, the story doesn’t work and you have learned something new about writing. If an idea appeals to me, even if it’s completely cracked out, I may as well try it. And this is how I end up writing in second person and first-person plural and other things besides.

AMY: Your inspirations range widely: music, linguistics, war, math. What attracts you to certain elements? What are some sources of inspiration for you that readers might find surprising?

YOON: The embarrassing truth is that I get bored easily, so I flit magpie-like from hobby to hobby, and all of this eventually funnels into the writing. The inspirations you mention above are ones that I keep returning to. I loved music before writing; I have perfect pitch and I like to compose as a hobbyist (chamber orchestra, piano, electronica). Every so often I get out my keyboard and fool around on it, but I miss the days when I played viola in my high school orchestra. I also triggered airport security back in the mid-‘90s once, as a kid, because I was carrying half a dozen harmonicas. I guess it was all that metal! (I don’t remember why the harmonicas couldn’t have gone into checked luggage.)

Linguistics fascinates me because I love languages, although I have given up on my long-ago ambition to learn all the languages; there’s not enough time and my brain is tired. My first language was Korean, which is not remotely similar to English, but I am no longer fluent in Korean, and I can only stumble through interactions in it, with vocabulary limited to household phrases like “Where are the chopsticks?” I took French in middle and high school, and German and Latin in college, and am currently struggling to pick up a bit of Japanese. Years back I used to play around with conlanging (constructed languages), which is where I learned most of the linguistics that I know at all. These days I don’t really use conlangs for writing because it’s just inefficient unless the whole point of the story is the conlang, but I do miss it.

I have been fascinated by war for a long time, although earlier on, when I thought I was going to focus on writing high fantasy, I concentrated on medieval European warfare. It’s only more recently that I’ve tried to learn more about war elsewhere. My father was an Army surgeon at one point and I attended two Department of Defense schools when I was a small child. Later on I grew interested in questions of military ethics alongside questions of strategy and tactics and logistics. I read probably more military history than any other single nonfiction genre, but a lot of this is the type of history that focuses on generals, or military food (I have a book with some very hair-raising recipes…), or technology. And alongside those books I keep a couple books that are about wartime atrocities and military ethics explicitly because they look at war from a completely different angle, and I feel it’s important to remind myself that numbers aren’t fighting each other, people are.

As for math, I’ve covered how it helped me structurally, but the other reason I switched into math was its sheer beauty. Math is the language the universe expresses itself in. And people have a window into it! It’s unbelievable. I regret sometimes that I didn’t pursue a doctorate, but it would have meant giving up writing for that period of time and in the end I couldn’t do it. In the meantime, I may not be a mathematician, but I try to show people a bit of what I glimpsed as a math major, the edifices of pure thought.

There are other inspirations I just flirt with. The reanimation system in “Bones of Giants” was based on my fascination with traditional 2D animation. I don’t draw well enough to attempt it myself, but I love reading about it, and I’m in awe of the skill involved. I also get inspiration from things like anime—the two characters in “Bones of Giants” are based on Heero Yuy and Duo Maxwell (gender-flipped to Sakera, female) from the anime show Gundam Wing—and video games like Planescape: Torment and Mechwarrior: Living Legends (a Crysis Wars mod). Tabletop roleplaying games too; “Combustion Hour” took some of its inspiration from John Tynes’ fascinating and disturbing fantasy/horror RPG Puppetland, and “Distinguishing Characteristics” was helped immensely by the example of Liam Liwanag Burke’s RPG Dog Eat Dog, which uses RPG mechanics to critique colonialism. I’m not sure it would be a fun game to play, but it’s certainly thought-provoking. “The Graphology of Hemorrhage” came out of a childhood fascination for those dreadful graphology books I used to find in libraries shelved next to the New Age stuff and which would claim to predict things like your bedroom predilections and whether you’re an introvert or extrovert from your handwriting slant. (Dreadful, but fun. I hunted down a bunch for my personal collection.)

Then there’s the jam in “The Contemporary Foxwife.” Strawberry jam was one of the two Western foods my maternal grandmother deigned to learn to make. (The other was spaghetti and meatballs.) It was extraordinary jam, and while I have had many lovely strawberry jams in the United States, I have never had one that matched hers for intensity and sweetness. When I was a child, whenever I slept over at the old family house, I was permitted to go into the kitchen and collect a little dish of strawberry jam, nothing but the jam, and eat it with a spoon for my breakfast. I don’t know if my grandmother’s household ever had bronze fox spoons, but my mother told me once that she’d heard a story that during the Japanese occupation, the Japanese came by and confiscated all the bronze spoons, not because they were dangerous but because the metal was needed for the war effort.

And the dolls in “Wine” came from a more recent hobby, ball-jointed dolls (BJDs), which I found out about because I follow the fairy/fantasy artist Amy Brown. At one point she was selling some used BJDs. I didn’t buy any of those, but I was struck by how beautiful (and, okay, expensive) they were. I did some research and eventually ended up buying four of my own. My husband thinks they’re creepy, which is a point in their favor. (My husband puts up with a lot.) I love how customizable BJDs are, and also how creative people get with them—you can change up the wigs, the eyes (I love that you can take out the eyes and put in new ones!), the clothes, make modifications to the dolls themselves (although if you’re doing this, please pay attention to the necessary safety precautions as resin dust is poisonous)…

On a more frivolous level, any time you see a lizard in one of my stories, that’s a nod toward my daughter, who is now eleven years old. Her nickname is “the lizard” so it’s my way of acknowledging who’s in charge of the household!

AMY: You write diverse characters, including many smart, powerful, world-changing female protagonists. How do you choose and create your characters?

YOON: It’s interesting that you mention the female protagonists. I can’t remember when I started doing this, but it was a definite decision—I sat down at some point after I’d started publishing stories, and started counting how many POV/protagonist characters were male and how many were female. And now, how many are nonbinary, but I didn’t know about that then. (I’m working on it now.)

The thing about counting is that numbers are not the enemy. (Of course, a math major would say that.) My reasoning then and now is that if there’s some terrible imbalance in how I’m generating characters, I’m unlikely to be consciously aware of it. But once the story has been written, I can count up whatever statistics and see if they’re trending in a direction I’m happy with, and work toward a goal.

I’m trans and I identify as male and I find it somewhat easier to write male characters because that’s how I myself identify, and for this reason I will continue to sometimes write male characters, because it’s something I can permit myself to have that I am denied in real life, and I am not going to erase myself from my own writing. But at the same time, I feel it’s critically important for more female characters to appear in fiction. I have an eleven-year-old daughter and I want her to have more reading options showing smart, interesting girls and women; I don’t even bother looking for biracial protagonists in YA fantasy (my husband is Caucasian, so my daughter is biracial) because it just narrows the field too damn much when it’s hard enough to find the kid additional things to read and she does things like blowing through all of Harry Potter in a week. (We let her read pretty much anything that she is interested in reading, but we sometimes supply supplemental material.)

In any case, every so often I go through and make an inventory and see if there’s a particular category that I want to work on. Do I expect that the count will be balanced in every category? Frankly, no; I don’t expect to present equal representation in my own work. But I want there to be some representation in some categories, as an earnest of good faith, even if it’s a work in progress.

Sometimes when writing multiple characters, I’ll pick genders (say) for logistical reasons. If I have five characters, it’s unlikely I’ll write all of them as the same gender because of pronoun collision. Sometimes I go through a short story, say, and I’ve originally written certain characters in various combinations of gender or whatever, and then I’ve had to delete a character so it unbalances everything else, and then I have to go through and fix things.

I will add that I have in fact changed the gender of characters in drafts to deal with imbalances that I personally was not happy with. This causes massive proofreading problems because once I decide that, say, Kel Khiruev is a man, my brain forever believes that “he” is a correct pronoun for Khiruev, and won’t flag it as wrong even if it’s no longer currently correct. If I’m going to do something like this I usually flag it in a note to my beta readers so they aren’t confused (and so they can help me catch the stray pronouns!).

As far as roles played, I suspect that I have too much liking for genocide and military plots, so my characters do slant that way (generals, captains, fighters of all sorts). I recently turned in an adventure story for an anthology and it was so unsettling because the anthology wanted a more lighter-hearted, heist-like plot, so I went in for a thief as the protagonist. I never write thieves! Really, it comes down to what best suits the logistics of the plot. On rare occasion the character comes first, but it’s more usually the plot or concept, and then figuring out a character that intersects that plot or concept in a useful fashion.

AMY: In interviews, you’ve spoken about both assassinating the reader and cornering the reader, leading me to guess that you consider the reader almost an opponent—which, as a negotiator by trade, I respect deeply, and as a reader, I find delightful. Would you expand on how you view readers, and how you think (or like to think) that they’ll interact with your work?

YOON: I feel odd admitting this, but part of my philosophy toward the reader comes from Sun Tzu’s Art of War, where I’m doing my best to control the “battlefield” by controlling what information the reader has. Of course, as the writer I have a certain advantage; especially since I tend to write secondary worlds, the reader only has the information about those worlds that I choose to give them, plus whatever they may deduce from those worlds’ similarity to our own. For example, if I give the general indication that the characters are human, then it’s unfair for me to suddenly spring on the reader that they actually reproduce by pollination two lines from the ending. (Unless it’s some kind of reproductive twist ending?)

In any case, I generally tend to withhold information unless there is some good reason to give it, although this is not always a great way of going about it, because I am aware that I’m not as good at making my work comprehensible as I could be. But the thing is, I see extremely dedicated readers sitting there nitpicking details in stories, or in Star Trek night skies, or the journey in Lord of the Rings, or whatever it is. I feel that this is unfruitful and it’s better simply not to provide that level of detail in the first place; then they can’t prove things are right or wrong one way or another. Give the amount of detail that the story needs for its existence, and leave out everything else. A proof would be written the same way. If you want to prove the Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic, you don’t additionally throw in a bunch of stuff from point-set topology into the proof. (I assume. I didn’t get to algebraic topology so I imagine there’s a connection somewhere for more advanced students of mathematics.)

On my end, I work off a model of the reader as opponent because I’m fundamentally adversarial in outlook. I find it easier to figure out how to do my job if I think of it in terms of outwitting an enemy. One of my friends back in college said that I liked to “punish bad assumptions”; I don’t know if I ever achieve that ideal, but it’s something of the feeling of what I try to do. And as a reader myself, or a viewer of narratives in TV and movies, I enjoy this kind of cat-and-mouse as well. I like playing what I call “plot chess” against the narrative by trying to figure out where the plot will go before it goes there. It’s a game only really suited to certain kinds of storytelling—it’d be fair game in something like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, less suited to something that doesn’t give thematic or plot clues to future events.

As for how readers interact with my work, they can do so however they like. I’m keenly aware that not every story is for every reader, which is why it’s a good thing to have a lot of variety in what’s available. Some people will like what I write; some people will hate it; either way is fine. Obviously, I am vain and I would love it if people liked my writing, but I won’t take it personally if someone doesn’t. I will be sad for fifteen minutes and then, because I have no attention span, I will forget about it entirely. Sometimes having a terrible attention span is a decided advantage.

AMY: Lastly, tell us about a remarkable woman of fantasy literature—an author, reader, agent, editor, scholar, or someone else—who has changed your life.

YOON: I thought about this for a while, and I have to say it’s someone you almost certainly haven’t heard of, which is my kid sister. She’s read practically everything I’ve written since we were children, and she’s always encouraged me. We both got interested in fantasy and science fiction around the same time because she read everything I was reading despite being two and a half years younger. Even today we consider our book collections to be held in common, although our tastes in literature have diverged somewhat. I probably would still have persevered in writing without my sister’s presence, because I am stubborn, but it sure wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun. She’s the only person whose fiction recommendations I trust, not because other people are evil, but because my tastes are so idiosyncratic and she’s the only one who’s known me long enough to have a chance of figuring me out. I also still remember the time when we were kids in Korea and had just come into existence, and we somehow sweet-talked our dad into buying us the entirety of Roger Zelazny’s The Chronicles of Amber. (It is as well I don’t know what the shipping cost.) When the books arrived, we stayed up all night reading them, all of them, straight through. Or, well, my sister did, because she went first. I got through the ninth one, fell asleep waiting for my sister to finish the tenth, and then read the tenth on the next day. Whenever I get rejection slips, acceptances, anything to do with writing—my sister is the first one to know.


Presented by Narrate Conferences, Inc.


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