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Where Are They Now: 2010 Guests of Honor

This fall will mark our tenth year of Sirens. With our conference theme of reunion, it’s the perfect chance to reflect on past conferences and revisit some old friends. In this series, we check in with our past Guests of Honor to see what they’ve been up to these days. If you attended Sirens that year, please share with us your memories of 2010 in the comments or on social media, and take a stroll with us down memory lane!

In 2010, our theme was faeries, and our Guests of Honor were Holly Black, Marie Brennan, and Terri Windling.

Holly Black

Holly BlackThe Cruel Prince

Holly returns to the dark world of faerie featured in Tithe with The Cruel Prince, which was an immediate bestseller when it came out in January 2018. First in the Folk of the Air trilogy, it features “a mortal girl who finds herself caught in a web of royal faerie intrigue.” Holly went on a six-city author tour for The Cruel Prince—check out a recap here! Fans of Holly’s previous tales of faerie will be delighted to know that this takes place in the same realm as Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside, as well as the standalone, The Darkest Part of the Forest. Book two, The Wicked King, releases next January 9, 2019.

In addition to her young adult novels, Holly co-authors the Magisterium series with Cassandra Clare for middle grade readers. The conclusion of the series, The Golden Tower, comes out September 11, 2018.

Where She Is Now: Working on, we’re sure, books two and three of the Folk of the Air trilogy; living in Massachusetts with her husband Theo and her son Sebastian in a house with a secret library. Also, did you know that Holly has real life elf ears now?

Upcoming Public Appearances: Special Guest at ArmadilloCon in Austin, TX

 

Marie Brennan

Marie BrennanWithin the Sanctuary of Wings

We’ll let Marie share the exciting news herself: “It’s been a busy eight years since I had the honor of being a guest at Sirens! My most recent series, the Memoirs of Lady Trent, has done really well: the first book, A Natural History of Dragons, was a finalist for the World Fantasy Award and won the Prix Imaginales for Best Translated Novel in France; the second book, The Tropic of Serpents, was also nominated for the Prix Imaginales as well as the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire; the fifth and final book, Within the Sanctuary of Wings [editor’s note: published April 2017], recently won the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award; and the series as a whole is a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Series, with results to come at WorldCon in August.”

Marie also contributes episodes to the Serial Box serial fiction novel, Born to the Blade, of which the first season is available now.

Where She Is Now: “I just finished writing a standalone sequel to the Memoirs, a book about Lady Trent’s granddaughter, black market antiquities smuggling, and the translation of a lost epic from the Draconean civilization. I also bought my first house a couple of years ago, which has been an adventure all on its own!”

 

Terri Windling

Terri WindlingDartmoor Mythic Arts

Terri began a Patreon as of Fall 2017, which provides a wealth of glimpses into her life in the Devon countryside. Terri has several projects in the works, including:

  • A lightly illustrated novel for middle grade readers “set in a magical version of rural Devon,” involving her “bunny girl” and animal spirit characters

  • The Moon Wife, a novel for adults, loosely connected to her award-winning The Wood Wife

  • A Story of Stories, a collection of Terri’s essays on folklore, fairy tales, and fantasy

  • With Ellen Kushner, “Rat and Blade,” a novella for Bordertown, a shared-world urban fantasy series for teens

  • Paintings, collages, prints and cards, including a “bunny girls” coloring book

In May 2016, Terri gave the fourth annual Tolkien lecture at Oxford, titled “Tolkien’s Long Shadow: Reflections on Fantasy Literature in the Post-Tolkien Era.”

Where She Is Now: From Terri’s Patreon Overview page: “I live in a small village on Dartmoor surrounded by mythic artists and sheep. I work from The Bumblehill Studio, my faithful hound usually curled up beside me, and I write a daily blog about myth, art, and nature, called Myth & Moor.”

 

Book List: Anna-Marie McLemore

For our 2018 theme of reunion, we chose Guests of Honor with work exemplifying the themes of the past four years: hauntings, rebels and revolutionaries, lovers, and women who work magic. Today, Guest of Honor Anna-Marie McLemore shares the book list she curated for the lovers theme. If you enjoy her work, we hope you check out these other reads!

 

The Secret of a Heart Note
1. The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee
A mother-daughter team of perfume artists, a character who feels so deeply you’ll fall in love alongside her, and a touch of magic that shines through this heart-warming book.
Furyborn
2. Furyborn by Claire Legrand
The word ‘epic’ doesn’t even begin to do justice to Claire Legrand’s latest fantasy, which will pull you completely into its world, and have you swooning into its pages.
Undead Girl Gang
3. Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson
In this contemporary fantasy, you’ll find love interests depicted with the same detail and brilliance Anderson brings to every character, but the love for the ages in this novel is the best friendship between Mila and Riley.
The Prince and the Dressmaker
4. The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
A designer who’s equal parts innovative and endearing, a prince who loves wearing brilliantly crafted gowns, in a book that has historical atmosphere and romantic chemistry spilling from the pages.
Picture Us in the Light
5. Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert
This one comes from the contemporary side, but it so beautifully captures the romantic longing that simmers between two best friends, set within an incredibly moving story about family.
Like Water for Chocolate
6. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
I know this one has made Sirens reading lists before, but I have to include it here, both as an essential work of magical realism, and a depiction of love and heartbreak so visceral you’ll taste it.

 

Anna-Marie McLemore is the Mexican-American author of The Weight of Feathers, a 2016 William C. Morris YA Debut Award Finalist; 2017 Stonewall Honor Book When the Moon Was Ours, which was longlisted for the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature and won the 2016 James Tiptree, Jr. Award; and Wild Beauty, a fairy tale of queer Latina girls and enchanted, murderous gardens. Blanca & Roja, a magical realism reimagining of Snow-White & Rose-Red meets Swan Lake, is forthcoming in 2018.

Anna-Marie’s historical short stories are forthcoming in the anthologies All Out, The Radical Element: Twelve Stories of Daredevils, Debutantes & Other Dauntless Girls, and Toil and Trouble. Her shorter work has previously been featured in The Portland Review, CRATE Literary Magazine’s “cratelit,” and Camera Obscura’s Bridge the Gap Gallery, and by the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West.

For more information about Anna-Marie, please visit her website or Twitter.

 

Sirens Review Squad: When the Moon was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

The Sirens Review Squad is made up of Sirens volunteers, who submit short reviews of books (often fantasy literature by women authors) they’ve read and enjoyed. If you’re interested in sending us a review to run on the blog, please email us! Today, in honor of Anna-Marie McLemore’s Guest of Honor week here at Sirens, we welcome a review from B R Sanders on Anna-Marie McLemore’s When the Moon was Ours.

When the Moon was Ours

When Miel was five, she poured out of the water of the town’s felled water tower. Sam was the first person to talk to her, and the two of them have been inseparable ever since. Miel, her hem perpetually damp with water from nowhere, grows inexplicable roses from her wrist and lives with Aracely, who cures the town’s citizens of lovesickness. Meanwhile, Sam works the Bonners’ pumpkin patch and wrestles with his gender day in and day out. When the Bonners’ pumpkins start turning into glass, and the Bonner sisters turn their sights on Miel’s roses, Miel and Sam are faced with hard choices and harder truths.

If the description above doesn’t get you interested in reading When the Moon was Ours, then maybe this will: I love this book, and I really think you should read it. It is exactly, precisely, the kind of book I wish I could hand to a younger version of myself. It has not one, but two of the most sensitive and nuanced portrayals of trans people that I’ve read in a long, long time. I took this book slow; I luxuriated in it like you do a hot bath. I didn’t want it to end. As an AFAB (assigned female at birth) non-binary person, the depiction of Sam, especially, read so true that sometimes it made me tender and raw.

At the heart of the book is a rich depiction of small-town America, but that small town is diverse. There are people of color in that small town. There are people with disabilities in that small town. There are queer people in that small town. And there are transgender people in that small town. Just like in the small town where I grew up, where, yes, people were queer even though it was in Texas. My town was a mix of brown and black and white and Asian. It was poor, and with that came a bevy of people living with disabilities. McLemore weaves a story about surviving and eventually thriving in a small town that felt real and true and authentic.

McLemore is a gifted writer. Virtually every character is full of life. The town itself is a character, something living and breathing, a place at once constraining and comforting. This is an essentially character-driven book: one thread of the story hinges on Miel’s need to uncover her past and how it informs her future. Another thread is the Sam’s acceptance of his own gender identity. McLemore writes both characters’ arcs beautifully.

All books have a weakness. When the Moon was Ours suffers from an overstuffed and meandering plot. At times, the plot feels absolutely crucial to Miel and Sam’s self-discoveries, but at other times, the plot feels divorced and separate from them. McLemore is bursting with ideas here, and the world she builds is alive with texture, but there is, perhaps, too much texture. It is entirely possible that she could have had one book of just Sam, Miel, and Aracely coming to grips with each other, and entirely separate (and incredibly creepy) book of the Bonner sisters and their weird coffin and glass pumpkins. There are so many good ideas and flourishes here that some get crowded out. Some are not given the space to breathe and develop. This is a book that either needed to be bigger and longer and even more intricate, or sharper and smaller and more precise. But When the Moon was Ours, as it exists, is still extraordinary and well worth a read.

If you’re in the mood for a rambling witchy story of two teenagers shambling towards themselves and love and happiness, you should definitely check out When the Moon was Ours! This is a sweet and tender book I read months ago, and still think about nearly every day since I finished it.


B R Sanders is an award-winning genderqueer writer who lives and works in Denver, CO, with their family and two cats. B writes fantasy novels about queer elves and short fiction about dancing planets. They have attended Sirens in 2015, 2016, and 2017 (and hope to attend again in 2019). They love drinking coffee and sleeping. B tweets @b_r_sanders.

 

Sirens Guest of Honor Interview: Anna-Marie McLemore

We’re pleased to bring you the first 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 discuss our 2018 theme of reunion, as well as the themes of our previous four years: hauntings, rebels and revolutionaries, lovers, and women who work magic. We hope these conversations will be a prelude to the ones our attendees will be having in Beaver Creek this October! Today, Amy Tenbrink interviews our first guest of honor, Anna-Marie McLemore.

S15_author_interview_graphic

AMY: Your work is so often based on families: biological families sometimes, as with the feud between the Palomas and the Corbeaus in The Weight of Feathers, but just as profoundly, found families, such as Aracely’s mothering of water-tower-born Miel in When the Moon Was Ours or Estrella’s shocking discovery of Fel in La Pradera in Wild Beauty. Perhaps similarly, your work often addresses the legacies of those families, from the aforementioned feud to the Nomeolvides women’s immutable ties to La Pradera. Why is the idea of family so important to you, and by extension, your work?

ANNA-MARIE: I love that you include found family in this question, because that’s a concept that’s there for so many of us, especially in the LGBTQ+ community. For better or worse, family makes you. No matter your family’s size, no matter if they’re the ones you grew up with or the ones you found along the way.

Sometimes family is something you push against: Cluck and Lace from The Weight of Feathers will always carry their families with them, even as they realize that their own survival may depend on taking paths that lead away from them.

Sometimes family is something you find in the moment of becoming yourself: When Miel spills out of the water tower in When the Moon Was Ours, Aracely becomes someone who exists in the space between mother and big sister to her; at the same time, Aracely also becomes an older sister figure to Sam, the boy who finds Miel in the first place and who hangs the moon outside her window.

Sometimes family is made by common languages: Wild Beauty centers on five cousins who are not only Latina, not only blood-related, but also all queer. They know the strength of community and family. As curious as they may be about the strange boy who appears in the gardens, they wouldn’t make him part of their family if they couldn’t tell how much he respects that sense of community.

The family I grew up with and the family I’ve chosen both hold space in my life, and I think that ends up showing in my books. You’ll find that again in Blanca & Roja, a Latinx reimagining of “Snow-White & Rose-Red,” so it’s all about sisters, but it’s also all about the families we make.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Blanca & Roja is due out in October.)

 

AMY: To me, the most profound, most present theme in your work is a trinity of acceptance, redemption, and forgiveness: Cluck’s saving Lace’s life, Miel’s love of Sam, the Nomeolvides’ welcome of Fel into their home. In your work, acceptance frequently creates a necessary foundation for redemption and forgiveness, and those are lessons that are important to a number of readers. What about those themes speak to you as a writer?

ANNA-MARIE: I think I often end up writing stories about how those around you can sometimes love you before you know how to love yourself, and how you do the same for them. Lace and Cluck in The Weight of Feathers recognize in each other the things that make them outcasts from their own families, and find those things beautiful in each other before they can in themselves. Miel and Sam in When the Moon Was Ours desperately want to show each other unconditional acceptance and love, but can’t until they feel safe acknowledging the ways in which their own hearts are broken. In Wild Beauty, Fel comes into the Nomeolvides family’s lives with a lot of humility, both for good reasons—he recognizes them as the queens of La Pradera—and for tragic ones—he carries a lot of free-floating shame without having any memory of what it’s attached to. They treat him as family in a way that reminds him of his own value, and he’s their reminder of the tremendous power they have as a community of Latina women.

In Blanca & Roja, acceptance becomes even more intertwined with the idea of redemption and forgiveness. In addition to being a reimagining of “Snow-White & Rose-Red,” Blanca & Roja is also a reimagining of Swan Lake, so in many ways it’s a story about the roles we get cast in—as women, as queer women, as women of color—and how we can write our own stories instead.

 

AMY: The first work of yours that I read was The Weight of Feathers, which you set in California’s Central Valley. I grew up in rural Michigan, and your Central Valley read to me as an almost sentient character full of that so-called American quiet desperation. Similarly, La Pradera, the magical garden in Wild Beauty, drives not only characters, but the plot, as the Nomeolvides women react to its apparent power and rage. How do you choose and create your settings?

ANNA-MARIE: The settings usually choose me, or, I should say, they choose my story. In The Weight of Feathers, the smaller towns of the Central Valley matched with the idea of the Palomas’ and Corbeaus’ traveling shows. Wild Beauty is so much about heritage and legacy and the terrifying truth that sometimes lives beneath that which is beautiful. So La Pradera, with its stunning gardens, enchanting magic, and bloody history (I won’t share more, because spoilers) became the perfect landscape for the story of the Nomeolvides women.

 

AMY: When the Moon Was Ours is a transcendent fairy tale, especially for readers who don’t often see themselves in such stories. Wild Beauty is both a story of magical women and incisive commentary about class and social struggle. Would you please share a bit about including and balancing both individual identity and societal themes within your work?

ANNA-MARIE: I love that you use the term fairy tale, because that’s really my heart as a writer. Even before I started writing fairy tale reimaginings like Blanca & Roja, it was my heart as a writer. My fairy tales are usually queer, brown, or both, because those are the communities I know. The fairy tales that are truest for me to write are ones grounded in identities I know.

In the process of taking myself seriously as a writer, there was an aspect of awakening, of realizing that my existence—as a Latina woman, as a queer woman, as a woman who loves a trans guy—that all of that was politicized, whether I wanted it to be or not. That it always had been. Leaving identity politics out of art isn’t a luxury I have, and knowing what I know about my own communities, it’s not one I want.

I want to write fairy tales for my communities. I want to write stories that are honest—in all their blood and history—and also hopeful—in placing LGBTQ+ characters and characters of color at their centers, in giving them space to claim the magic that belongs to them. A story about a Latina girl with roses growing from her wrist and a Pakistani-American trans boy who paints the moon cannot exist without acknowledging what it’s like for these characters to navigate their hometown. A story of five queer girls of color can be filled with enchanted gardens and ball gowns and still carry an understanding of the characters’ identities. I may not go around constantly thinking about being a queer Latina, but I never forget it completely, because the world never forgets, and because I have to choose, over and over, to be proud of it.

 

AMY: Your craft is, in a word, exquisite. Lyrical, poetic, honest, unforgettable. Would you please tell us about your writing process?

ANNA-MARIE: That’s so kind of you to say. In terms of writing process on a craft level, I sort of say everything at once and then pare back. I’ll describe something three ways, and then only one of those three ways will end up being the right one. So much of the magic in writing is letting your brain and your heart go wherever they want, and so much of the power of revising is in deletion, in pulling back, in distilling.

 

AMY: Sirens is about the remarkable, diverse women of fantasy literature. Would you please tell us about a woman—a family member, a friend, a reader, an author, an editor, even a character—who has changed your life?

ANNA-MARIE: My mother. If she were a fantasy character, she’d be the queen who’s equal parts brilliant and stylish, or she’d be the most glamorous of witches. I won’t say we always agree, but she’s so often been my model for finding power in being a woman and in being Latina.

 


 

Anna-Marie McLemore is the Mexican-American author of The Weight of Feathers, a 2016 William C. Morris YA Debut Award Finalist; 2017 Stonewall Honor Book When the Moon Was Ours, which was longlisted for the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature and won the 2016 James Tiptree, Jr. Award; and Wild Beauty, a fairy tale of queer Latina girls and enchanted, murderous gardens. Blanca & Roja, a magical realism reimagining of Snow-White & Rose-Red meets Swan Lake, is forthcoming in 2018.

Anna-Marie’s historical short stories are forthcoming in the anthologies All Out, The Radical Element: Twelve Stories of Daredevils, Debutantes & Other Dauntless Girls, and Toil and Trouble. Her shorter work has previously been featured in The Portland Review, CRATE Literary Magazine’s “cratelit,” and Camera Obscura’s Bridge the Gap Gallery, and by the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West.

For more information about Anna-Marie, please visit her website or Twitter.

 

Sirens Newsletter – Volume 10, Issue 6 (May 2018)

In this issue:

 

THANK YOU FOR YOUR PROPOSALS

Thank you to everyone who submitted programming proposals! We received a record-breaking number of proposals this year, and the vetting board is hard at work reviewing your work. Decisions will be emailed by June 11, as will programming scholarship awards. All presenters must be registered for Sirens and paid in full by July 10, and we will announce this year’s programming shortly thereafter.

 

REGISTRATION AND TICKETS UPDATE

We are already half sold out for Sirens this year and the Studio and Supper tickets are almost gone! We currently have only 13 tickets remaining for our Sirens Studio and five tickets remaining for our Sirens Supper. If you’d like to register or purchase a ticket, you may do so in our registration system.

Register or Purchase Tickets

 

SCHOLARSHIPS

We’re thrilled to report that not only did we raise more funds for scholarships than ever before, we received more applications for those scholarships than ever before! Scholarships for publishing professionals and those with financial hardships have already been awarded, as have most of the scholarships for people of color awarded through Con or Bust—but one scholarship for a person of color is still available. Please visit Con or Bust to apply.

 

WHERE ARE THEY NOW: GUESTS OF HONOR

This fall will mark our tenth year of Sirens. With our conference theme of reunion, it’s the perfect chance to reflect on past conferences and revisit some old friends. In this series, we check in with our past Guests of Honor to see what they’ve been up to these days. In 2009, our theme was warriors, and our inaugural Guests of Honor were Tamora Pierce, Kristin Cashore, and Sherwood Smith.

Read the Full Post

 

SECOND STUDIO CAREER INTENSIVE ANNOUNCED

We’re excited to announce the topic and summary of our second Sirens Studio career intensive, Rhoda Belleza’s “Hard Stops”! You can check out the full list of workshop topics, summaries, faculty biographies, and all the information over on our Sirens Studio page. Again, we have only 13 tickets remaining for this year’s Studio, so please get yours soon!

 

PRIVACY POLICY UPDATED

Like seemingly every other company on the planet, Narrate Conferences, the 501(c)(3) organization that presents Sirens, has updated its privacy policy, which applies to Sirens. Notably, while the General Data Protection Regulation of the European Union applies to only certain individuals, Narrate’s new privacy policy extends the rights and protocols required by the GDPR to everyone. As this new policy applies to you by virtue of your continuing to use our website, register for Sirens, and so forth, you do not need to do anything to receive the benefit of this new policy. In contrast, MailChimp, the company that we use for our newsletters, requires that you update your settings in order to continue to receive our monthly Sirens newsletters in your inbox. To do so, please see the email we sent you earlier this week. If you have any questions or concerns, please email (legal at narrateconferences.org).

 

AMY’S BOOK CLUB

Miranda and Caliban

This month for her book club, Sirens co-founder Amy Tenbrink reads Jacqueline Carey’s Miranda and Caliban as it interrogates Shakespeare’s The Tempest: “I wanted more pointed criticism, more explicit condemnation of Prospero’s abuse and control of both Miranda and Caliban… That said, I’ve been considering lately that simple truth-telling might be its own form of feminism.” Read her thoughts on the blog and on Goodreads.

 

READ ALONG WITH FAYE

Food of the Gods

For the 2018 Reading Challenge, this month Communications Director Faye Bi picked up Cassandra Khaw’s Food of the Gods, which she found “truly absurd… But if you love wordplay, clever mythology, copious descriptions of food, a plethora of witticisms and a bumbling, yet somehow endearing hero, you’ll overlook the out-of-left-field plot and enjoy the onslaught of detail.” Read her full review on the blog and on Goodreads.

 

SIRENS REVIEW SQUAD

Children of Blood and Bone

Bookstore Coordinator Amanda Hudson read Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone, which she loved for its “wondrous worldbuilding,” save for an “unexpected use of a popular trope… children forced to fight other children in a tournament or arena setting until only one is left alive, explicitly for the entertainment of adults.” Read her full review here.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT …


Questions? Concerns? Please email general queries to (help at sirensconference.org) and questions about programming to (programming at sirensconference.org).

 

Where Are They Now: 2009 Guests of Honor

This fall will mark our tenth year of Sirens. With our conference theme of reunion, it’s the perfect chance to reflect on past conferences and revisit some old friends. In this series, we check in with our past Guests of Honor to see what they’ve been up to these days. If you attended Sirens that year, please share with us your memories of 2009 in the comments or on social media, and take a stroll with us down memory lane!

In 2009, our theme was warriors, and our inaugural Guests of Honor were Tamora Pierce, Kristin Cashore, and Sherwood Smith.

Tamora Pierce

Tamora PierceTempests and Slaughter

Tamora’s most recent publication is Tempests and Slaughter, the first book in the long-anticipated Numair Chronicles, which came out in February 2018. The series follows the early life of the Tortall Universe’s most powerful mage, Arram Draper, in his early days as a student, before he grows into Numair Salmalin and partner of wildmage Veralidaine Sarrarsri. Tempests and Slaughter hit #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and Tamora completed a multi-city book tour a few months ago—you can read her recap post here.

For longtime fans of the Tortall Universe, Tortall: A Spy’s Guide, a full-color, behind-the-scenes collectible guide, came out in October 2017.

Where She Is Now: Hard at work on the second book of the Numair series, for which three books are planned. “She has some ideas for her next series—and there will be a next series!—but for the time being, there are no other projects planned and scheduled after the Numair Chronicles.

Upcoming Public Appearances: Guest at Denver Comic-Con 2018

 

Kristin Cashore

Kristin CashoreJane, Unlimited

Kristin’s latest book, Jane, Unlimited, came out in September 2017 to awe, acclaim, and brain-twisting. Described as “a kaleidoscopic novel about grief, adventure, storytelling, and finding yourself in a world of seemingly infinite choices,” Jane, Unlimited made the list of the Young Adult Library Services Association’s (YALSA) 2018 Best Fiction for Young Adults, was an Indie Next Top Ten Pick, and hit both the New York Times Bestseller List and the Indiebound Bestseller List.

Jane, Unlimited’s newly re-jacketed paperback will come out on July 10, 2018.

Where She Is Now: Releasing a tenth anniversary edition of Graceling this September. In October, she’s going to be sailing on a tall ship in the Arctic Circle with other artists: “It’s a two-week artist residency organized by an organization called The Arctic Circle which sends artists into that vulnerable environment in the hopes that it will influence their art, which will then influence consumers to are about saving the environment.”

 

Sherwood Smith

Sherwood SmithA Sword Named Truth

After a few postponements, Sherwood’s first book in a new series, A Sword Named Truth, has a tentative release date of December 8, 2018. For longtime fans of Sartorias-deles, the world in which the Inda and Crown Duel books are set (as well as Banner of the Damned), this series marks a major new arc, in which “young rulers must cooperate to protect their world from the magical threat of the mysterious kingdom of Norsunder.

Also, Traitor, the fourth and last of The Change series co-written with Rachel Manija Brown, will come out this year.

For fans of Sherwood’s Wren series, you’ll be pleased to discover that an omnibus edition (including the long-awaited Wren Journeymage) is available as an ebook.

Where She Is Now: Planning to independently publish The Time of Daughters, set 100 years after Inda, this summer. It deals with “the long shadow cast by Inda & Co. And power. And gender.

Upcoming Public Appearances: Instructor at Viable Paradise 2018

 

Sirens Newsletter – Volume 10, Issue 5 (April 2018)

In this issue:

 

GUEST OF HONOR: VIOLET KUPERSMITH

Due to a very happy personal circumstance, Zen Cho will no longer be able to attend this year’s Sirens. Instead, the incomparable Violet Kupersmith will join us as our Hauntings guest this October! Violet is the author of The Frangipani Hotel, a collection of supernatural short stories about the legacy of the Vietnam War, and a forthcoming novel on ghosts and American expats in modern-day Saigon.

We’ve been enthusiastically recommending The Frangipani Hotel every year at Sirens since it was released. Her ghost stories are simultaneously retold Vietnamese folktales, an indictment of the Vietnam War, and an exquisite exploration of loss—of culture, of country, of family, of self. Her settings are palpable, her characters all-too-human, and her work brilliant, incisive, and subversive.

Please join us in welcoming Violet to Sirens! We have updated our reading lists and website, and you can read Violet’s full biography on our Guests of Honor page.

 

PROGRAMMING PROPOSALS DUE MAY 6

You have only seven days left to propose programming for this year’s Sirens! We hope that you’re considering submitting a proposal or two. You voice is valid and valuable, whether you’re new to Sirens or a ten-year veteran, and whether you’re a reader, scholar, librarian, farrier, secret-keeper, or heroine!

We are accepting proposals until May 6. For full information and instructions, please see our Programming Proposals page, as well as our series of blog posts on 2018 Programming, featuring programming types, tips, tricks, and general advice.

Have questions? Looking for a co-presenter? Need more inspiration? Check out the #SirensBrainstorm tag on Twitter; every Monday we tweet out fresh ideas free for the taking. We’ll also be hosting one more programming chat on our Chat page, which will be live at the scheduled time:

  • Tuesday, May 1, 9–11 p.m. Eastern (6–8 p.m. Pacific)

 

APPLY FOR SIRENS SCHOLARSHIPS

Due to the tremendous generosity of the Sirens community, we have 12 scholarships to award this year: three for people of color, three for exemplary programming proposals, three for those with financial hardships, and three for librarians, educators, and publishing professionals. The deadline for financial hardship and professional scholarships is May 13. For more information, visit our Scholarships page.

Each scholarship includes a conference registration and a round-trip shuttle ticket. Please spread the word! If you’re eligible for a scholarship, we very much hope that you’ll apply. Everyone needs a helping hand or some extra encouragement sometimes, and we’re so grateful to the Sirens community for making this support possible.

 

TICKETS UPDATE

Studio and Supper tickets are nearly sold out! We currently have only 14 tickets remaining for our Sirens Studio and six tickets remaining for our Sirens Supper. If you’d like to purchase a ticket, you may do so in our registration system.

 

SIRENS MEET-UPS

Though nothing replaces attending Sirens in October, we occasionally host casual get-togethers for the Sirens community throughout the year. It can be a great way to introduce us to your friends (and vice versa), share a meal or a cup of tea, and chat about books with fellow Sirens community members! Here are the meet-ups in Denver and New York:

  • Denver: Saturday, May 5, 2–4 p.m. Mountain
  • New York City: Saturday, May 19, 2–4 p.m. Eastern

Please note that attendees must pay for their own drinks and food. RSVP to Jennifer at (jennifer.shimada at sirensconference.org). Please see our post for the full details.

 

AMY’S BOOK CLUB

The City of Brass

Sirens co-founder Amy Tenbrink talks personal reading quirks, reluctant heroines, and dazzling world-building in her book club pick this month—S. A. Chakraborty’s The City of Brass—which she called, “in many, many, ways … a tour de force.” Read her thoughts on the blog and on Goodreads.

 

READ ALONG WITH FAYE

Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty

Communications Director Faye tried her hand at young adult poetry this month for her 2018 Reading Challenge pick, Christine Heppermann’s Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty. “The book is a handsome tome, pocket-sized with art and text laid out just-so, and Heppermann is clearly talented, even if her poems don’t speak to my experience as a former teenage girl.” Read her full review on the blog and on Goodreads.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT …


Questions? Concerns? Please email general queries to (help at sirensconference.org) and questions about programming to (programming at sirensconference.org).

 

Guest of Honor: Violet Kupersmith

Due to a very happy personal circumstance, Zen Cho will no longer be able to attend Sirens this year. Instead, the incomparable Violet Kupersmith will join us as our hauntings guest this fall.

If you aren’t yet familiar with Violet or her work, here are some details: Violet is the author of The Frangipani Hotel, a collection of supernatural short stories about the legacy of the Vietnam War, and a forthcoming novel on ghosts and American expats in modern-day Saigon. She spent a year teaching English in the Mekong Delta with the Fulbright program and subsequently lived in the Central Highlands of Vietnam to research local folklore. She is a former resident of the MacDowell Colony and was the 2015–2016 David T.K. Wong Fellow at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. Her writing has appeared in No Tokens, The Massachusetts Review, Word Vietnam, and The New York Times Book Review.

To that, we’ll add that The Frangipani Hotel, which we’ve been enthusiastically recommending to everyone every year at Sirens, is a brilliant, incisive, subversive work. Her ghost stories are simultaneously retold Vietnamese folktales, an indictment of the Vietnam War, and an exquisite exploration of loss—of culture, of country, of family, of self. Her settings are palpable, her characters all-too-human, and her work unforgettable. We hope you’ll check it out before Sirens!

 

Five Earth-shaking, Epic Books to Read After The Fifth Season

So, you’ve inhaled N. K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season. Maybe you’ve read The Obelisk Gate and The Stone Sky too—and found the books in The Inheritance Trilogy and the Dreamblood duology. What next? We’ve got you covered! Read on below, and remember that all these books will be in our on-site conference bookstore next week.

1. The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard

On the surface, The House of Shattered Wings might not feel similar, but look beyond the Paris setting in aftermath of a devastating war between fallen angels, you’ll find one of the finest explorations of colonialism in fantasy. There’s an elegance to de Bodard’s writing with intrigue, court politics and icy antiheroes, but what’ll stay with you most are the ruminations on displacement, ownership of one’s self, and belonging.

2. The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor

In this standalone prequel to Okorafor’s award-winning Who Fears Death, Phoenix is a two-year-old “accelerated human” with a body of a 40-year-old, a scientific experiment built by a government-backed corporation. She lives in Tower Seven with other genetic specimens, also usually of African descent. The Book of Phoenix expertly combines mythology, religion and futurism with contemporary racial and gender politics and a revenge story for the ages. And yes, not unlike orogenes, she also has the immense power to destroy the world.

3. Court of Fives by Kate Elliott

No epic fantasy list would be complete without Kate Elliott’s many intricately crafted sagas, but we find her young adult series Court of Fives (and sequels Poisoned Blade and Buried Heart) to be among her best. With immersive world-building with inspirations from Ancient Egypt and the tensions between the native population and the Patron upper class, Jessamy’s mixed-race family is at the crux of rebellion and political change. We also think the obelisks would wink at the Fives court.

4. Monstress by Marjorie Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda

If you want vengeance, you’ll have a ball with Raika Halfwolf, the Arcanic protagonist and former slave girl.  Arcanics are a mixed race between humans and the immortal, animal-shaped Ancients, and though some of them “pass” as human, their bodies are systematically used for magical experiments. With large realms, an extensive cast and expert meta-commentary on race and politics, it’s just as well that Monstress is a comic, with sumptuous visuals to pore over.

5. The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley

This all-female space opera has alien tech, organic ships, and no small dose of messy bio-evolution and body horror.  Zan wakes up a prisoner on a ship with people who say they love her, while Jayd also finds herself navigating dangerous political schemes among the Legion. It seems pretty far removed from The Fifth Season, but it’s innovative, eye-opening, gruesome, and visceral—and you probably haven’t read anything like it before.

B Reviews Guests: The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin

We’re excited to share the last in a mini-series of posts by friend of Sirens, B R Sanders, who has been reviewing books by each of this year’s Guests of Honor during their featured weeks. This week we welcome their review of N. K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season!

I loved this book. It was immensely hard for me to read, and I still loved it.

I read The Fifth Season hungrily, because it is a damn good book, cleverly structured and wonderfully written, always leaving you on the edge of your seat and wanting more.

The Stillness is a land that is never still. Stills are people who hate orogenes, people whose immense magic can bring order to the land. The world has a habit of ending. There are entire histories of apocalypses. This is the story of the most recent one, the most terrible one yet. And to understand how it happened, one has to understand how many injustices—small and large, premeditated and coincidental—came together to shape two very particular people in very particular ways.

It’s Jemisin’s choice to root this apocalypse in a handful of lives, and in a handful of choices, that makes the book work. She shows how those choices fracture a life, how the course of lives can and must sometimes change on a whim. How sometimes those forces are within our control, but how often they are not, and how terrifying it is that they are not. The actions that set the story in motion come as a cumulative response to this: a response to a lifetime of being corralled and cajoled and confined.

There is an immense amount of depth in this book. I am White, and I have rarely been as aware of my whiteness as I was reading this book. There is a reason that Essun and Alabaster are Black. Jemisin is articulating something here about what it is to be Black—the entire sequence while they are in Allia, while they have to navigate avenues of politeness that they are expected to perform but can’t expect to receive in kind, that is what it is to be Black in America, at least in part. She has captured here that kind of very particular containment that I am aware of but I will never experience, and she has written it into the minds of people who can literally tear the world apart with a fury-filled thought.

But they are not just their fury. Of course they aren’t; they are people, and they want and they desire, and they get tired and they break and they have hidden strengths. Jemisin knows these characters inside and out. Alabaster and Essun, especially, are deeply known and well-written. The book is both a quest and a tragedy, but the tragedy is at its heart the fact that people have limits, that they run out of will, that they can’t keep going. Or that some can, and others can’t by some weird fluke of fate.

The Fifth Season brutalized me and left me breathless. When it ended, I immediately preordered its sequel, The Obelisk Gate. I cannot wait to see what happens next.


B R Sanders is a white, genderqueer speculative fiction writer who lives and works in Denver, Colorado, with their family and two cats. Outside of writing, B has worked as a research psychologist, a labor organizer and a K–12 public education data specialist. They write about queer elves, mostly.

 

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